New England Regional Set

The field for the 2013 NCAA New England Regional was announced this morning by the NCAA. Eight teams will converge on Harwich, Mass., this Wednesday to compete for a trip to the Division III National Championships in Appleton, Wisc.

Here is the tournament field:

1. Southern Maine – LEC champ

2. Wheaton – NEWMAC champ

3. Endicott – CCC champ

4. Western New England – CCC runner-up

5. MIT – NEWMAC runner-up

6. St. Joseph’s – GNAC champ

7. Salem St. – MASCAC champ

8. Daniel Webster – NECC champ

This looks like its going to be one helluva regional that can be one by any team. Southern Maine has been dominant this year and it appears they are the favorite heading in. You can’t discount pitching and defense, however, and that is what Wheaton, Endicott and Western New England all do well. 

My prediction is that Wheaton comes out on top with a deeper pitching staff and a lockdown closer. Plus, I think Eric Podbelski knows how to get his team ready to play in the NCAA tournament.


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Around the Region: May 6

The NCAA tournament is right around the corner and four teams punched their ticket this past weekend. Salem State won its first MASCAC title since 2006, Endicott its first CCC title since ’06, Daniel Webster won its second-straight NECC title and Wheaton wrapped up its 13th NEWMAC title. This weekend, the LEC and the NESCAC will crown their winners and then the teams will wait to see who gets sent where next Sunday. New England Poll

1. Southern Maine (33-7): Will host the LEC tournament starting Wednesday.

2. Wheaton (30-10): Wrapped up another NEWMAC title last weekend.

3. Eastern Connecticut (28-11-1): Have won 15 of their last 17 since being swept by USM.

4. Western New England (31-11): Lost the CCC tournament for the first time in five years to Endicott.

5. Endicott (32-12): Bounced back to win four-straight elimination games in the CCC tournament.

6. St. Joseph’s (29-11): Wrap up their season this week with two against Bates.

7. MIT (23-11): Advanced to the NEWMAC title game before falling to Wheaton.

8. Salem St. (25-13): Claimed their first MASCAC title since 2006 over the weekend.

Around the Region

Wheaton will once again represent the NEWMAC in the NCAA tournament. The Lyons claimed their 13th title with a 6-3 victory over MIT on Saturday and will now get a chance to defend their regional title. Frank Holbrook won his eighth game for the Lyons and Sean Ryan was named the tournament MVP after hitting .500 in the playoffs. Wheaton has now won 13 of the 15 NEWMAC titles.

In one of the most shocking results of the weekend, Endicott unseated Western New England in the CCC. The Golden Bears had won every title since joining the conference five years ago but the Gulls earned a convincing 12-3 victory. The Gulls were defeated in the first round of the tournament but rebounded by winning their next four elimination games to earn its first tournament title since 2006. Brendan Pittsley earned victories in two of Endicott’s final three victories. He allowed one run over eight innings against Roger Williams on Saturday and then tossed 1.1 innings of relief on Sunday against the Golden Bears. Kevin Dupras’s four scoreless innings of relief closed the door on the Golden Bears.

Salem State won three games and allowed just four runs to earn its first MASCAC title since 2006. The Vikings defeated Worcester St. 7-1 on Friday, Framingham St. 7-3 on Saturday and Westfield St. 5-0 in Sunday’s final. Sean Buckland tossed a three-hit shutout in the final and tournament MVP Steve Buitkus went 2-for-4 with a run and two stolen bases. It was also the Vikings’ ninth shutout of the season.

In the NECC, Daniel Webster became just the second team in tournament history to win two games on the final day to win the title. Needing to beat Mitchell twice, the Eagles earned a 12-8 victory to force the “if necessary” game and then erased a 6-1 deficit to win 9-7. Tournament MVP Rich Lizotte had a memorable final day, going 7-for-11 at the plate with four runs scored and he also picked up saves in both games. The Eagles will now represent the NECC in the NCAA tournament for the second-straight season.


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Around the Region: April 30

It’s the best time of the year in New England…playoff baseball! Two conference tournaments began last weekend and this week several more begin as teams start playing for a chance to compete in the 2013 NCAA New England Regional that is to be played at Whitehouse Field in Harwich, Mass.

National Rankings

Wheaton and Southern Maine are the only two teams ranked in this week’s Top 25 national poll. The Lyons are ranked No. 14 and the Huskies are at No. 16.

Western New England (32), St. Joseph’s (13) and MIT (7) are all receiving votes. New England Poll

1. Southern Maine (29-6): Rebounded from three-straight losses to clinch the LEC regular-season title with four wins last weekend.

2. Wheaton (27-10): Wrapped up another regular-season title and now the Lyons are a win away from another tournament title.

3. Western New England (28-9): Wrapped up another CCC regular-season title over the weekend.

4. Eastern Connecticut (24-11-1): Still able to get it done despite the media surrounding the team.

5. MIT (22-8): Swept Wheaton last week but will need to win three games this weekend to capture the NEWMAC title.

6. Endicott (28-11): Have won 14-of-15 and tied Western New England with a 15-1 record in the CCC.

7. St. Joseph’s (28-11): Won the GNAC tournament title with a walk-off victory.

8. Salem St. (21-13): Claimed the MASCAC regular-season title this past weekend and will host the tournament this weekend.

Around the Region

Well, if the remaining conference tournaments duplicate what we saw this past weekend we will be in for one helluva ride. St. Joseph’s was down to its final out against Suffolk but somehow rallied to tie the game in the ninth and then win it in the 10th to claim the GNAC title and a ticket to the NCAA tournament. Brandon Chase and Alex Markakis drove in the tying runs in the ninth, and Joe Coyne delivered the walk-off hit in the 10th. The Rams forced the “if necessary” game by defeating the Monks, 7-2, earlier in the day. St. Joseph’s has now won a conference title in eight of the last nine years.

The NEWMAC tournament also started last weekend and top-seeded Wheaton needed a three-run seventh inning to get past Coast Guard in the first round. Justin Peluso’s two-run single broke a 5-5 tie and set the Lyons into the winners bracket final where they defeated MIT 11-8. Wheaton needed another comeback however, as they trailed 5-0 after three and a half innings. The Lyons scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth and then erased the deficit with six runs in the sixth. Babson stayed alive in the tournament as they eliminated Coast Guard, 13-2. The Engineers and Beavers will now play on Saturday for the right to face Wheaton in the championship round.

The CCC, NECC, NAC and MASCAC tournaments all get underway this weekend. In the CCC, Western New England and Endicott needed several tie-breakers to decide who earned this week’s top seed but it was eventually the Golden Bears. Salve Regina is the third seed, Roger Williams the fourth seed, Wentworth the fifth seed and Curry the sixth seed. The tournament begins on Thursday at the highest seed and continues through Sunday.

Salem State wrapped up the MASCAC regular-season title and will host the tournament this weekend. The Vikings and second-seeded Framingham both receive first-round byes and will play on Friday. On Thursday, fifth-seeded Bridgewater faced fourth-seeded Worcester and sixth-seeded Mass Maritime visits third-seeded Westfield in a win-or-go home game.

Daniel Webster won the NECC regular-season title and will host this weekend’s four-team tournament. DWU will face fourth-seeded Becker on Friday and second-seeded Mitchell will face third-seeded Elms.

Castleton State had the NAC regular-season title wrapped up a long time ago and will now try to claim the tournament title this weekend. They will host the four-team tournament that includes second-seeded Husson, third-seeded Colby-Sawyer and fourth-seeded Thomas.

The two remaining conferences, the LEC and the NESCAC, will both begin next weekend. Southern Maine wrapped up the LEC regular-season title this past weekend and will host the six-team tournament next weekend in Gorham. Who’s going to be joining them is still up for grabs. Eastern Connecticut is currently in second place with an 8-4 record but wrap up the season with a doubleheader against Keene State this weekend. The Owls and Mass-Boston are tied for third place with 7-5 records. Mass-Dartmouth (5-7) and Rhode Island College (4-8) are fifth and sixth but Plymouth State (3-9) can get in if they sweep the Anchormen this weekend.

In the NESCAC, the four teams are already decided and will get a week to prepare before converging on Middletown, Conn., next weekend. With a series victory over Amherst last weekend, Wesleyan earned the top seed in the West Division and the right to host the tournament. Amherst is the second seed and will play the East Division’s top team, Trinity in the first round. The Cardinals will face Bowdoin in the first round.

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Around the Region: April 22

WOW! That is the first word that comes to mind as the conference season wraps up around New England. But before we get to that, I have to make sure I recognize some pretty special accomplishments in the coaching ranks. Keene State head coach Ken Howe, one of the best guys I have had the opportunity to play against and work with, won his 500th career game on April 18. Earlier this year, another New England in Southern Maine head coach Ed Flaherty won his 800th career game. That is alot of wins of the Little East between Howe, Flaherty and Holowaty. Also, Wheaton bench boss Eric Podbelski is closing in on his 500th career victory, needing just two to reach the milestone. New England Poll

1. Southern Maine (25-4): Ran win streak to 19 before falling to Wheaton on Sunday. Scored 10+ runs 12 times during stretch.

2. MIT (20-6): Just swept a doubleheader at Wheaton to make a the NEWMAC regular season title a one-game playoff on Tuesday.

3. Wheaton (23-10): Stopped the Huskies on Sunday but couldn’t contain the Engineers on Monday.

4. Eastern Connecticut (21-8-1): A sweep at the hands of USM has awoken the Warriors, winners of eight straight.

5. Western New England (24-8): 18-4 since returning from Florida and tied atop CCC standings at 13-1.

6. St. Joseph’s (25-10): Hoping four-game skid is thing of past with victories in 11-of-12.

7. Suffolk (22-8): Have stumbled of late, dropping five-of-six.

8. Endicott (23-11): Sitting at 13-1 in the CCC and winners of nine of its last 10.

Around the Region

This is going to be a heck of a week for teams trying to get into the conference tournament. It all starts in the NEWMAC where the four teams are all determined but the top seed is still up for grabs. That comes down to a single game on Tuesday as Wheaton and MIT wrap up their three-game series. The Engineers pulled out a pair of one-run victories on Monday over the Lyons in Norton to make Tuesday’s game a must see. Babson (11-7) and Coast Guard (9-9) are the other two teams in the tournament that begins on Saturday at the top seed.

Speaking of the Engineers, they appeared in my regional rankings back on March 28 and have stayed there since. MIT hasn’t lost back-to-back games all year long and is led by one of the top pitching staffs in the region. The Engineers have posted a 2.81 team ERA and Aric Dama (6-1, 1.55), Max Ockner (4-2, 2.00) and Kiel Jindra (2-1, 1.89) have all been dominant. Senior Henry Zhu has picked up seven saves, including two on Monday.

In the GNAC, a huge doubleheader between Suffolk and Albertus Magnus on Monday night will determine the playoff seeding for this week’s upcoming tournament. If the Falcons lose both, it sets up a three-way tie for the final two playoff spots between Albertus, Anna Maria and Norwich. At the top, St. Joseph’s and Johnson & Wales are tied with 13-3 records. Their seeding will be determined by the finish of the other teams.

Two weekends remain to be played in the LEC and Southern Maine is sitting pretty with a 7-0 record. Keene State and Eastern Connecticut are both 6-3 with a big doubleheader looming on the final weekend of the season. One game separates the final three spots as Boston (4-5), Dartmouth (4-5) and Plymouth State (3-6) are all trying to get into the tournament.

Watch out for the Vikings in the MASCAC. Salem St. moved to 10-0 in league play with a sweep of two-time defending champ Bridgewater State over the weekend. The Vikings have a healthy four-game lead over the second place team with four games remaining. After the Vikings, it gets real interesting in the MASCAC as Worcester St., Westfield St. and Framingham St. are all 6-4. Bridgewater is currently on the outside looking in with a 5-5 mark.

Castleton State is running away with the NAC this year, posting a 20-2 league mark with two games remaining. Husson is in second play with a 13-5 record. The Spartans opened things up this past weekend with a four-game sweep of Thomas, dropping the Terriers into third place with an 11-7 record. Colby-Sawyer should be the fourth team in with a 10-8 record currently. Ryan Zielinski is hitting .336 with 17 RBI and 28 runs scored and junior Adam Greenlese is 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA for the Spartans.

Daniel Webster and Mitchell sit atop the NECC standings with identical 12-3 league records. One weekend remains in conference play and Lesley is currently in fourth place with a 6-8 mark. Two years removed from an 0-28 season, the Lynx have won 12 games this year, including a 3-2 victory over Mitchell last weekend. Southern Vermont (5-9) is currently a game out of the playoff picture but could play a big role in the playoffs as it has one game with Daniel Webster and three with Mitchell left on the schedule.

The NESCAC East Division got a great deal more interesting this past weekend thanks to Colby. The Mules took two-of-three from Tufts and made the this weekend’s Tufts-Bowdoin series the biggest of the season. The Polar Bears are 7-2 in league play and need just one win to earn a playoff berth. A sweep by the Jumbos, however, would knock Bowdoin out of the postseason. Trinity will just sit by and watch this weekend as they are finished with an 8-4 record and have  secured a playoff berth. In the West, Amherst and Wesleyan have already clinched playoff spots with 8-1 and 7-2 records, respectively. That doesn’t mean this weekend’s three-game set between the two rivals won’t be exciting as they battle for the right to host the postseason tournament. Also, Hamilton College’s Joe Jensen is having a historic year on the basepaths as he has stolen 27 bases on the year and is closing in on the NESCAC record.

Western New England and Endicott continue to match each other win for win. Both are 13-1 in league play with two games remaining. The Golden Bears wrap up with a pair against Gordon next weekend, while Endicott will have its hands full with Salve Regina. The Seahawks are having an amazing season, posting an 11-2 record in league play and a 25-7 record overall. After the top three, Roger Williams has wrapped up the No. 4 seed with an 8-6 record. Gordon (5-9), Curry (4-9) and Wentworth (4-10) are all separated by a game heading into the final weekend. The series of the weekend could be between the Colonels and Leopards as they battle for a spot in the postseason tournament on Saturday.



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Around the Region: April 17

First off, I have to give a big congratulations to my former coach and my uncle, Bill Holowaty. Coach Holowaty became just the 10th coach at any collegiate level to win 1,400 career games. He is 1,401-523-7 and is the winningest coach in any collegiate sport at any level in New England history. I am so proud to have played for him and even more proud to call him my uncle. It was also another great week on the diamond as the conference picture got murkier in some cases.

National Rankings

Wheaton and Southern Maine are the only two New England teams ranked in this week’s national poll. The Lyons are ranked 11th and the Huskies are 18th.

Western New England (31), Saint Joseph’s (13) and Suffolk (2) are also receiving votes. New England Poll

1. Southern Maine (21-3): The Huskies have won 15-straight games and have a big Thursday showdown with Wheaton.

2. Wheaton (22-7): The Lyons are starting to turn it on and just defeated Western New England 10-2 on Tuesday.

3. Suffolk (21-6): Have lost three-straight games, including a sweep at the hands of St. Joseph’s over the weekend.

4. Eastern Connecticut (19-8-1): The Warriors have bounced back with six-straight wins but a big set of games looms next week.

5. Amherst (16-5): The Lord Jeffs have won eight-straight games including a weekend sweep of Williams over the weekend.

6. Tufts (18-7): The Jumbos have won 10-straight games including a weekend sweep of preseason favorite Trinity.

7. MIT (17-6): The Engineers had a hiccup over the weekend but responded with a big win over Wesleyan University Tuesday.

8. Western New England (19-8): Despite a tough loss to Wheaton on Tuesday, the Golden Bears are still playing better of late.

Around the Region

Let’s start off in the GNAC where the Monks made things very interesting over the weekend with a sweep of Suffolk. That leaves three teams — St. Joe’s, Suffolk, Johnson & Wales — with 10-2 league records. Just four games remain for each team including a huge doubleheader in Providence this weekend between the Monks and the Wildcats. Also in GNAC news, congratulations to senior Chad Rafferty on becoming the all-time wins leader at Saint Joseph’s. In four years, Rafferty has posted a 24-3 record, breaking a 27-year old record with his 24th career victory on Sunday afternoon over Suffolk.

The Little East standings also got very tight this past weekend. ECSU’s sweep of Mass-Boston brought everyone very close together, and heading into this weekend, the 2-6 spots in the standings are separated by just one game. Three teams are tied at 4-3 and two have 3-4 records. Southern Maine sits atop the league standings with an 5-0 record.

Salem St. is starting to distance itself in the MASCAC standings, moving to 8-0 with four wins this past weekend. The Vikings have won six-straight games and currently hold a three-game lead over second place Bridgewater St and Westfield St. Worcester St. and Framingham St. are tied for the fourth and final playoff spot with 4-4 records. It could get a lot closer this weekend as Salem St. hosts Bridgewater St. in a huge league doubleheader.

In the NESCAC, it looks like Amherst (6-0) and Wesleyan (5-1) have the inside track on the playoffs. Hamilton (2-4), Middlebury (3-6) and Williams (2-7) are all below .500 and struggling. In the East, Bowdoin looks good at 7-2 and Tufts sits at 4-2 but the two teams could knock each other out of the playoff picture when they meet in two weeks. Trinity could determine its playoff fate with a big three-game series against Bates this weekend.

With just one weekend remaining in NEWMAC play, the four playoff teams have been decided. Their order of finish, however, is still up in the air. MIT and Wheaton meet this weekend to determine the regular season championship. The Engineers need to sweep, while the Lyons need just one victory to claim another crown. Coast Guard (9-6) and Babson (8-7) are within a game of each other and meet this weekend to determine their final seeding.

Western New England and Endicott are currently tied with 9-1 records in CCC play. Salve Regina is on their heels with an 8-2 league mark. With three conference doubleheaders remaining for each team, Curry (4-6) is trying to hold on to its sixth spot in the standings.

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Around the Region: April 10

What a great season it has been so far in New England. The parity this season might be the best it has ever been in the region with any team having the chance to win a game on any given day. A quick glance around, however, does show that some of the perennial favorites are still doing there thing. I’ll get to that below.

National Rankings

Wheaton is the top-ranked New England team in this weeks Top 25 poll, coming in at No. 12. The only other team ranked is a newcomer as Southern Maine joined the rankings for the first time at No. 24.

Suffolk (28), Western New England (26) and St. Joseph’s (25) all received votes in this week’s poll.

NED3Baseball New England Poll

1. Southern Maine (16-3): Have won 10-straight games including a first-ever sweep of ECSU on the road and a pounding of St. Joseph’s (ME) on Tuesday.

2. Wheaton (18-6): Have won 10-of-11 including a 11-5 victory over Trinity on Monday. They are 11-1 in NEWMAC play.

3. Suffolk (19-3): The Rams have continued their torrid pace with an 8-0 start in GNAC play. A big doubleheader with St. Joseph’s looms this weekend.

4. MIT (14-4): Dropped Tuesday’s meeting with Babson in 13 innings but are 10-2 in NEWMAC play.

5. Western New England (14-6): Have won 8-of-10 since returning from Florida.

6. Wesleyan (14-8-1): The Cardinals have won 10 of their last 12 and just swept Williams for the first time since 2000.

7. Eastern Connecticut (13-8-1): Dropped three-straight to end last week but opened up this week with a 10-1 win over Babson.

8. St. Joseph’s (14-9): The Monks have hit their roughest patch in over three years, dropping their last four games.

Around the Region

Southern Maine appears to be on a mission this season. With one of the most experienced lineups in the region, the Huskies are starting to flex their muscles. They just swept a doubleheader at Eastern Connecticut for the first time in school history last Saturday and then pounded St. Joseph’s 16-2 on Tuesday. USM is hitting  .350 as a team and averaging 10 runs per game on the season. Nick Grady leads the team with a .494 average, eight doubles, 27 RBI and 26 runs scored. Tucker White is also hitting over .400 (.455) and has collected four doubles, five triples, four home runs, 23 RBI and 31 runs. On the mound, Logan Carman has been great, posting a 5-0 record and a 1.56 ERA in 34.2 innings.

Last year’s national runner-up, Wheaton is starting to play some its best baseball. They have won 10-of-11 and are off to an 11-1 start in NEWMAC play. Solid hitting and excellent pitching are the keys for the Lyons again this season. Eric Jensen and Apolinar De La Cruz are both hitting .400 and Dan Gusovsky leads the team with 26 RBI. On the mound, Frank Holbrook has continued to dominant, posting a 6-0 record and a 1.66 ERA in a team-high 48.2 innings. Alec Palioca is 5-1 with 41 strikeouts in 39.1 innings and junior closer Ryan Grant has already racked up six saves on the season.

Western Connecticut’s Conor Bierfeldt, one of projected top hitters in the region, is off to another hot start. He’s hitting .360 with six doubles, two triples, two home runs and 18 RBI.

Salem St. moved to 4-0 in MASCAC play with a doubleheader sweep of Mass Maritime last weekend. The Vikings won 3-0 and 5-3. The three runs were the first runs they have allowed in league play this season. The Vikings team ERA is at 6.29 overall but Ryan Hyjek has been nearly untouchable. He’s 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 27.0 innings. Hyjek has allowed just 15 hits, struck out 34 and issued just three walks.

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Around the Region: April 3

It still isn’t spring yet in New England. Teams are battling the poor weather, however, and getting their games in. Conference play has also begun and that means even more exciting matchups.

National Rankings

For the second-straight week Wheaton and St. Joseph’s are the top-ranked teams in the Top 25. Wheaton remains at No. 10 this week with a 12-5 record, while St. Joe’s falls 10 spots to No. 21 with a 10-5 record.

Western New England (61), Eastern Conn. (24), Southern Maine (17) and Suffolk (4) are all receiving votes in this week’s poll.

NED3Baseball New England Poll

1. Southern Maine (12-3): The Huskies have won six-straight games, including victories over Endicott and Bowdoin.

2. Suffolk (13-3): Opened up GNAC play with two wins but were just stymied by WNE, 3-2.

3. Eastern Connecticut (13-5-1): Split over the weekend with Plymouth St. but have two big wins to start the week.

4. Wheaton (13-5): Five-straight wins including a three-game sweep of Babson.

5. MIT (11-3): Great start includes wins over Amherst and Babson.

6. Western New England (11-5): Starting to turn it around with five-straight victories.

7. St. Joseph’s (10-5): Slipping of late, having lost four of their last seven.

8. Endicott (10-7): Haven’t backed down from tough competition, knocking off MIT and St. Joseph’s.

Around the Region

With conference play underway, there has been a surprising start in the MASCAC. Both Westfield State and Salem State started their conference seasons with sweeps. The Owls allowed just one run in a doubleheader sweep of preseason favorite Bridgewater State and the Vikings blanked Worcester State twice last Saturday. For the Vikings, Kyle Rufo notched a complete game shutout in the opener with eight strikeouts and Cato Lacroix followed with an 11-strikeout performance in the nightcap. In Westfield, Mike Molta allowed just one unearned run in a complete game victory over the Bears and Peter Cassidy twirled a four-hit shutout to complete the sweep.

In the NEWMAC, Wheaton and MIT are running away with the conference early on. The Lyons have welcomed conference play to their schedule, having won each of their first seven league games. They have swept Clark and Babson and just took the first game of a series from WPI. Wheaton has posted a miniscule 1.98 ERA in league games. MIT is looking for its second NCAA tournament appearance in three years and is off to a good start. The Engineers swept Clark and Springfield before splitting a pair of games with Babson last week. MIT has posted an even better 1.97 team ERA in league games. See, pitching does win championships!

In the Little East, UMass Boston is the only team that came out of the first weekend without a loss. The Beacons opened up league play with a sweep of UMass Dartmouth last weekend. Eastern Connecticut and Plymouth State split and Keene State and RIC split as well to open league play.

Another surprise start is Albertus Magnus in the GNAC. The Falcons have started league play 4-0 with a pair of sweeps over Norwich and Johnson & Wales. They’ve allowed just seven earned runs in 29 innings so far.

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