Tuesday, June 5, 2018

MIAA Baseball: Super Eight Primer and Predictions

Franklin ace Jake Noviello hopes to lead Franklin on a deep Super Eight run.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Lanigan (@R_Lanigan)/HockomockSports.com)

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

This year’s Super Eight certainly is not lacking in star power.

Lexington’s entrance into the tournament brings with it arguably the top player in the Bay State in Sal Frelick. Frelick, the Co-MVP of the Middlesex League, is hitting over .500 with five home runs and 22 RBIs. Along with the future Boston College infielder, the Minutemen pitching staff is led by UMass Amherst bound left-hander Jack Pawlowski. Madison Dina follows Pawlowski in the rotation.

Lexington’s candidacy was bolstered by a non-conference win over BC High and will now look to knock off their second Catholic Conference team in St. John’s Prep in the opening round. 

Speaking of those two Catholic Conference squads, BC High enters the tournament playing as well as anyone behind premiere ace Mike Vasil. Vasil, who missed a month with an arm injury, is 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA and has 36 strikeouts in 18.2 innings. Behind Vasil is Elon bound junior Sean O’Connell while Babson commit John MacDonald has not let up an earned run in his last three starts. The Eagles offense outscored its opponents 75-12 down the stretch. 

St. John’s Prep is hoping after three years being on the short end in the championship game it is their time to take home the trophy. Bryant bound catcher Alex Lane has as good an arm as any from behind the plate to go with power at the plate. Jake Sanderson has a live arm on the mound in front of Sean Letarte and Max Geig. Josh Cerretani, Tyler MacGregor, and Mike Yarin surround Lane in the lineup.

The only other league this year to be awarded two teams was the Hockomock League.

Mansfield finished red hot, winning its final 15 games. The 1-2 punch of Tyler Dalton and Kevin Dow are as good as anyone on the mound and both at the plate. Sam Nugent is the Hornets’ top hitter while John Carney and Connor Sheehan provide life out of the bullpen. 

Alongside the Hornets is rival Franklin. Franklin’s pitching staff has been excellent all season long led by Fairfield bound Senior Jake Noviello. Noviello is 6-2 on the season to go with a 1.36 ERA. Bryan Woelfel has proven to be as good as any No. 2 starter in the Bay State this season, pitching to the tune of a 0.78 ERA to go with a 4-1 mark and a save. Junior catcher Jake Macchi is one of the better ones in Massachusetts while Jack Nally has plenty of pop. Colby Fitzgibbons sets the table at the top of the lineup. 

The Panthers first round opponent in Wachusett enters the tournament with more wins than anyone. 

Largely due to a ferocious offensive attack the Mountaineers posted a 20-2 mark in the regular season with big wins over St. John’s Shrewsbury, St. Peter-Marian, and Catholic Memorial. Junior shortstop sensation Mike Maher has had a breakout season, while Francis Ferguson and Cole Durkan have built off strong 2017 campaigns. Maher enters the tournament hitting at a .427 clip while Durkan is hitting a whopping .539 with five home runs and 28 RBIs. Jake Gigliotti spearheads the rotation.

One year after making its first Super Eight appearance, Central Catholic is hoping to make a deeper run. Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year Steve Hajjar has been just about unhittable this season while leading the Raiders lineup. Dominc Keegan (Vanderbilt) is as good as they come defensively behind the plate. Noah Lucier and Joe Sanchez provide balance to the lineup.

In each of the first four seasons Braintree and Newton North represented the Bay State League in the Super Eight, but this year there is a new face. Walpole closed the season strong to earn a berth. Cam Schlittler has a 0.49 ERA this season and carries a perfect 6-0 record. Senior left-hander Ryan Murphy and junior righty Matt Donato back up Schlittler in the rotation to form a quality 1-2-3. Dylan Hanifin, junior catcher Tyler Page, and Bryan Kraus are the focal points of the lineup.


After both Catholic Conference and Hockomock League teams advance in the opening round, the Eagles defeat Mansfield and St. John’s Prep before defeating Franklin to take home their first Super Eight championship. 

Champion: BC High

Runner-Up: Franklin

Sleeper: Mansfield

Final Four: BC High, St. John’s Prep, Wachusett, Franklin 

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