As you may have seen on Twitter, I trekked down to southwest Virginia (where Quinnipiac, Hartford, and UConn were playing) and caught some great baseball this past weekend. Those teams might’ve preferred it if I stayed home (we’re 1-6 on the year with me in attendance), but thankfully, I couldn’t be everywhere, and New England’s strong start to 2016 continued. Central Connecticut headlined a slew of winning weekends in Division I, Franklin Pierce and Southern New Hampshire are off to matching 9-0 starts in D2, and NECC favorites Mitchell and Elms are off to perfect starts on their Florida trips. All that and more more after the jump.
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.
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.
Finally, a full weekend of baseball. Yeah, there were some cancellations and even more cold, but more teams than not have gotten out on a field, and a lot more will follow in the week to come. With some consistent 40s on the horizon for much of New England, fields will hopefully start melting off and drying off for home games in a couple weeks. And till then, we get to enjoy some more Florida sunshine.
On the field, plenty of teams were still shaking off the winter this weekend, but also some really good results down south. In Division I, Harvard and UConn got marquee series wins. In Division II, the NE-10’s top guns held serve, and Franklin Pierce’s Mike Lundin threw a no-hitter. And in Division III, Mitchell got a big series sweep to open NECC play, and plenty of others started southern trips off on the right foot.
Division III explodes onto the scene this weekend, with more than half of New England’s teams in action. It’s a deep region, with many of last year’s playoff teams returning talent and other teams waiting in the wings. Most of them have scheduled like they mean business, as you’ll see below, and it’ll prep them for what looks to be another year of tightly contested playoff chases and exciting conference tournaments. Here’s a conference-by-conference rundown of this weekend’s games.