For the first time since 2010, someone other than Saint Joe’s comes into this week as defending GNAC champions. After Suffolk wrested the championship away from the Monks last season, the two teams contested this year’s regular-season title through the final weekend, and both look primed for a deep playoff run. And of course, four other teams will be itching to break up their duopoly on the league’s autobid. They’ll play games in Waltham, Standish, East Boston, and Providence this week before deciding a champion come Sunday. More ahead on the history, the playoff race, and each of the six teams involved.
Somehow it’s the last full week of April, and we’ve been blessed with another weekend of sunshine to enjoy some great baseball all around the region. D3 takes center stage, with two key series in the NEWMAC that’ll decide a division title and a playoff spot. We’ll also hit up the GNAC, NECC, CCC, NAC, and Little East for matchups that’ll go a long way towards deciding conference standings at year’s end. In D1, we’ll preview big weekends for Quinnipiac, Bryant, Dartmouth, and Yale, along with an ESPN3 doubleheader for Harvard and Brown and BC’s home set with #4 Louisville. And finally, in D2, the Northeast Division’s biggest weekend yet comes our way in the form of #3 Southern New Hampshire’s visit to Merrimack. Enjoy the reading, and more importantly, get out and enjoy a game.
(One programming note before we dive in: I probably won’t be able to do a Weekend Roundup this coming Monday, but I’ll be back in the middle of the week with some preview material for next weekend.)
The weather was gorgeous this weekend, and the baseball was even better. We had more walkoffs than I can ever remember in a single weekend, and plenty of sweeps, upsets, and offense throughout the region. In Division I, UConn knocked off a top-30 opponent, Northeastern got a big road sweep, and the Ivy League standings got bunched about as tightly as possible entering the final two weekends. In Division II, Southern New Hampshire won its midweek grudge match with Franklin Pierce as part of a perfect week that left it atop the NE-10 Northeast. And in D3, a slew of title races came into focus in a weekend of walkoffs and upsets. Read on for more.
The games are only getting bigger as we turn the page on March, and there were plenty of big wins to fill the roundup. Hartford and Sacred Heart both took to the road to earn sweeps, Franklin Pierce and Southern New Hampshire kept on rolling ahead of their showdown this Wednesday, and there were some big results in D3. All that, and some thoughts on some big news about the D3 Tournament, after the jump.
We’ve gotten in a lot more non-conference baseball than we’re used to this year, but with the end of March, we’re finally getting into conference play. Leagues like the ACC, AEC, NEC, and NECC are in full swing now, and some fascinating title races are already taking shape. More on those, and on the slew of NECB clubs representing the region well as our center of gravity shifts from south to north in the weeks ahead.
(One other thing, a favor to ask: I’ll be linking the blog posts on a Facebook page from here on out, and I’d much appreciate it if you’d give it a like and help spread the word to folks who aren’t on Twitter to follow the season along with us. Thanks, and enjoy the post!)
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.
Just when we thought we were done with the snow, huh? Yet another weekend with a bunch of games cancelled, and these are conference games we’re talking about now. There was just enough turf and warmth for some teams to get outside up north, and a few were lucky enough to be playing down south. If you’re on grass, though, you better hope your facilities guys have an incentive-laden contract. They’ve got a busy week ahead if we don’t want to be canceling into the last weekend of March.
On the field, nobody really blew the doors off. None of the can’t-miss 4-0 and 5-0 weeks we’ve been seeing. Still, though, some good weeks, and plenty of exciting baseball. More after the jump.
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.