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.
NED3Baseball.com 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.