Some conferences see the same one or two teams contending for the tournament title year after year. The MASCAC isn’t one of them. In 14 years of conference tournaments, only one program has managed to repeat. That was Bridgewater, who did the deed in both 2003-2004 and 2011-2012. It’s a testament to the league’s parity that the Bears didn’t even make this year’s tournament. We also saw a three-way tie for first and a race for the final playoff spot that came down to the final weekend. Add that to the storyline of Bob Corradi’s title-winning sendoff at Mass Maritime, and you’re looking at one of the most compelling conference tournaments in New England.
Of the tournaments I’ve previewed so far, the CCC might have the most intriguing field. Two perennial conference powers at the top, a 3-4 matchup of two teams earning their highest seed in years, and two teams accustomed to competing for titles sneaking into the last two spots. Mix it all together, add plenty of on-campus games, and you’ve got an exciting weekend of college baseball to look forward to.
We always get a mixed bag of emotions in this great sport of ours, but even more than usual, this weekend saw some of the highest highs juxtaposed with the lowest lows. Tournament tickets punched, title games lost. Key series won, many more dropped. Playoff berths clinched, title bids up in smoke. Rookie coaches hitting it big, retiring veterans hitting the home stretch. Freshman leading playoff teams, and, what’s always the worst part of this best time of year, way too many careers coming to an end. Here’s a look at the action.
I visited Springfield today and caught the noon game at Western New England before heading down the road to AIC for the end of their Southwest Division contest with Adelphi. It was a beautiful day, and two one-run games made for great baseball. Here’s what I saw at Trelease Park and Bedard Field.
With our first conference tournaments underway, the weekend previews be focusing on the games that matter most to the title races and playoff chases from here on out. Since I’m doing separate previews for every conference tournament, I’ll keep that material out of the regular weekend preview post. This week, for example, you can find my look at the GNAC and NEWMAC Tournaments elsewhere.
I’ve gotta admit, it feels good not to start every piece with how bad the weather is. We’re still feeling its effects in the form of packed schedules (tripleheaders, anyone?), but the sun’s come out, and the playoff races are heating up. It’s looking like a heck of a year for New England Division I teams at the moment, with UConn and BC in the mix for at-large bids and league leaders in the NEC, MAAC, and Patriot League. In Division II, Franklin Pierce is having a historic season, and somehow I doubt they’ll be the only team making noise this May. In Division III, conference tournament season is upon us, and it looks to be even more exciting than usual, with few if any teams preparing resumes the committee can’t say no to. It’s a stressful time for the players, coaches, and fans involved, but it’s also a ton of fun. Here’s a look ahead to this weekend.
It feels like we’re always spoiled by the NEWMAC. Since 2011, only one title race has been decided by more than a game. Wheaton and Babson shared the title in 2011, and the Lyons beat out MIT by a game in the last single-standing season in 2013. The league didn’t break stride with the new divisional format in 2014, with only a game separating Wheaton over MIT in the East and Springfield over WPI in the West. In 2015, it was more of the same. MIT shared the West crown with Wheaton, and WPI finished just a game ahead of Coast Guard and Clark in the East. It’s always a competitive conference, and its tournament games rarely disappoint.
The GNAC Tournament. It’s like the Iowa Caucuses of New England college baseball. Every year, it’s our first glimpse of what the next few weeks of playoff baseball will bring. Coming off a strong 2014 that saw Saint Joseph’s win a pair of games in the NCAAs and Suffolk take the ECAC title, the conference faltered a bit early in the season, but it righted the ship, and an intriguing tournament field promises an exciting week of baseball. All the action will be within a short drive from Boston, Providence, Portland, or Manchester, and playoff college baseball brings an intensity that’s a lot of fun to watch.