If there’s a best week of the year in New England college baseball, this is it. Between Divisions II and III, more than two dozen NCAA Tournament games happen right in our backyards. For the third straight year, Harwich and Whitehouse Field are the lucky hosts of the Division III New England Regional. If you live anywhere near the Cape, there’s really no excuse not to catch a game or two. This is can’t-miss baseball.
So, now that everything’s cooled off a bit, let’s take a look at the selection committees’ work before we start getting excited for these regionals to kick off. I’ll discuss the at-large decisions, travel arrangements, and tournament format as a Q&A. If there are any questions/issues I don’t address that you’d like me to, let me know, and I’ll add to the post. None of what I say is an endorsement of the committee’s decisions, I’m just trying to explain them.
Since 2008, the NAC trophy has gone back and forth between Castleton and Bangor like clockwork. Castleton State has won it every even year, and Husson has taken it back in every odd year. It’s become one of the best rivalries in New England college baseball, and this year’s regular season was more competitive than ever. Joining those two in Vermont are Thomas and Maine-Farmington, two teams hungry for their first trips to the NCAA Tournament. Last year, a winner-take-all title game went the Spartans’ way, and another talented field this season promises even more excitement.
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.
This weekend, we saw a team pull off a four-game sweep without allowing an earned run, an 11-inning start where that pitcher’s team actually lost, a pitcher win both ends of a doubleheader with 9.1 one-hit innings, and 27 walks in a nine-inning game. Just another weekend in the best sport in the world.
Remember how I couldn’t find a sweep to mention last weekend? That wasn’t be a problem this week. Lots of teams put out serious statements of intent as we turned the calendar from March to April. Boston College headlined some stellar play in Division I. Stonehill and Post both got off to great conference starts in Division II. And in Division III, Western Connecticut pulled off a huge upset sweep of Southern Maine, and Endicott and Husson had stellar weeks as well.
A handful of Division 3 teams have already kicked off their seasons, making their counterparts stuck in basketball gyms or on half-shoveled turf pretty jealous. Bates had a nice 4-2 showing in California, and a few others stand at .500 as we close in on the start of March.
We’ll have to wait a week for most teams to get going, but about a half dozen more will have started up by the end of this weekend. The region’s biggest presence is in Florida, but teams are also trekking down to New Jersey, Virginia, and North Carolina to find a field to play on. Here’s a look ahead to the action.