Weekend Preview — May 6-8, 2016

Biggest weekend yet guys. A division to decide in the Ivy League, a three-way battle for the final playoff spot in the NE-10 Northeast, and five tournament tickets to punch in D3. Buckle up, and if you’re not playing in one, get yourself to a game.

Connecticut

Two huge D1 matchups come to Connecticut this weekend. First up, Yale and Dartmouth will decide the Rolfe Division title with a one-game playoff at Yale Field this Saturday. For the hosts, it’s a shot at their first trip to the championship series in more than two decades. For the visitors, it’s a chance at a ninth-straight division title. We were in the same boat back in 2014, when Nick Lombardi homered and drove in four to lead the Big Green to an 11-4 victory in that year’s one-game playoff. This season, however, Yale took the season series from Dartmouth for the first time since 2011, with Bulldog closer Mason Kukowski stranding the tying run on second in a 4-3 series-clincher. The visitors’ 3.32 club ERA is tops in the Ivy League in conference play– Duncan Robinson (2.36), Cole O’Connor (2.63), and Beau Sulser (2.88) have all posted sub-3.00 marks in the league. Yale, meanwhile, has been led by Harrison White (.328, 8 XBH, 16 RBI) and Scott Politz in conference play (4-1, 3.86). Considering the high stakes and the close games they played in the regular season, this one should be a lot of fun.

There’s also a big set down at Fairfield this weekend. The Stags, whom I haven’t given nearly enough love this year, come into the weekend in a 1st-place tie in the MAAC. The other team is preseason favorite and defending champion Canisius, who’s coming in for a three-game set this weekend. Bill Currier’s rotation has been the biggest reason for his club’s success in the league this year. Gavin Wallace is a perfect 5-0 with a 2.75 in league play, and rotation mates John Signore and Kyle Dube are also sub-3.00 in conference. They’ll need to be on their games this weekend against the Golden Griffins’ league-best pitching staff, but a series win would put Fairfield on the inside track for a regular-season title.

Rhode Island

Down by the water in Providence, Johnson & Wales will host this weekend’s GNAC Tournament. There are still some games to play this week that’ll decide the shape of the field, but you can check out our tournament preview here for more info. As with all the D3 tournaments we’ll mention in the remainder of this post, the competitiveness on display this weekend is something you won’t want to miss.

Western/Central Massachusetts

With a 3-2 win over Curry in today’s opener, Western New England ensured they’ll be hosting the latter rounds of the CCC Tournament this weekend. Conference Pitcher of the Year David Cherry outdueled David Griffin in today’s win, striking out nine over a nine-inning complete game; fellow first-teamer Kevin Marciano led the offense with a pair of RBI. You can read more about this weekend’s tournament in our preview.

Northeastern Massachusetts

Yet another D3 tournament to enjoy here, as Salem State hosts the MASCACs. The higher seeds advanced out of the play-in games, so Salem will play Westfield State, and Mass Maritime will play Fitchburg State in the other first-round matchup. For more on all of those teams, check out our preview.

We’ve also got some key games in the NE-10 Northeast playoff race in this area. Assumption visits Bentley for a doubleheader with big implications for the Greyhounds’ playoff hopes. After playing to a 2-2 tie before today’s game was suspended to be completed on Friday, they’ll be looking for a sweep to put themselves in the best possible position pending the results of the Merrimack-Stonehill series.

Southeastern Massachusetts

Speaking of MerrimackStonehill, they’ll play one of two series that highlight the slate in the southeast this weekend. Along with Assumption, they’re part of a three-team race for two playoff spots. Both of them could use a series win, at the very least, to ensure their playoff status. And if the 9-9 tie that Thursday’s game left off at is any indication of how this weekend will go, we’ve got a lot to look forward to.

Just around the corner in Norton, Wheaton and Babson will decide the NEWMAC title. You can read our preview for more on them, but know that both teams are battle-tested after winning road semifinal series to get here. They’ll play two on Saturday before wrapping things up on Sunday if necessary.

Metro Boston

In the city, UMass Boston has a chance to clinch at least a piece of the Little East title. Their remarkable 14-1 run has left them in a tie for first, and a doubleheader sweep of RIC would put them at 10-4, which is the best mark either USM and ECSU could reach this weekend. Junior Dave Murphy (no, not that one) earned conference player of the week honors after hitting .421 with two doubles, a homer, eight RBI, and ten runs scored. As you’ll know if you read the Weekend Roundup, he put those numbers up against stiff competition, as the Beacons went 5-0 with wins over USM, MIT, Plymouth (x2), and Endicott, all on the road. They’ll look to keep that momentum up heading into the conference tournament in this Saturday’s twinbill.

For the other big series in town, Boston College‘s three-game set with Wake, I’ll leave you with the Herald‘s piece previewing Pete Frates Day and the key series for the Eagles.

Vermont

Here, Castleton hosts the NAC Tournament for the fourth year in a row. The Spartans will be looking to three-peat, and the three visiting Maine schools will all be eager to deny them that honor. Check out our preview for more on all four clubs.

New Hampshire

Two season-ending doubleheaders in the LEC here, as Plymouth State hosts UMass Dartmouth, and Keene State welcomes Western Connecticut. Those four teams are currently 4th-7th in the standings, and only six teams make the conference tournament. PSU needs at least one win to clinch a spot, but that could be tough to come by against a UMD team fresh off a sweep of ECSU. Keene, meanwhile, needs to sweep to have any hope at a playoff spot.

Maine

We’ll stay in the Little East to wrap things up, where Southern Maine hosts Eastern Connecticut in the league’s traditional marquee series. Between them, the two programs have won six national titles, reached 20 College World Series, and made too many NCAA Tournament appearances to count. Defending D3 Player of the Year Sam Dexter (.404, 21 2B, 5 HR, 40 RBI, 19 SB) leads USM, while the Warriors can counter with LEC home run leader Alex Zachary (.375, 7 HR, 28 RBI).

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