Baseball tournament preview and predictions

Taunton will be looking to do what few teams have done in state history: three-peat.

The reigning two-time Division 1 state champions turned in yet another impressive regular season with 18 wins and received a pretty favorable draw in the early rounds. Another Hockomock League team to watch is Franklin, which has reached the state finals in each of the past two seasons and has a proven postseason track record.

The Catholic Conference is certainly going to have a say in what happens in this tournament. Xaverian has captured three state titles under Gerry Lambert and this team does many of the things which has stood them well in past tournaments. BC High might very well have the best roster around, while Saint John’s (Shrewsbury) and St. John’s Prep are more than capable of going on long tourney runs.

Div. 1 isn’t the only place where the Hockomock is expected to make noise. Mansfield and Milford sharpened their skills battling against the big boys of the Hock and that experience is going to serve to make them tougher in June.

Like Taunton, Milton is also in search of a third straight Div. 2 state title. The road won’t be easier, but the Wildcats do have that winning pedigree. Staying in the Bay State Conference, Walpole is primed for a massive tournament breakthrough. Chris Costello’s squad has the pitching and defense, something which has defined the program for decades.

Defending Div. 3 state champion Oakmont had another terrific season with 17 wins and should be able to make a sustained postseason run once again. Keep an eye on a Tewksbury team under first-year coach Matt Feld which had its best regular season in 15 years and competing in the MVC should be a bonus.

In the lower half of the draw, Apponequet is a team many have considered a real threat to get to Polar Park. The Lakers won 16 games in a very competitive South Coast Conference, Dighton-Rehoboth is another team from the SCC that can do some damage.

Two teams which have legitimate star power at the top of the pitching rotation are St. Mary’s and Hanover. The Spartans are two years removed from back-to-back Div. 2 state titles, while the Hawks are solid everywhere.

Seekonk broke through and took home the Div. 4 state title last year and has the tools to defend the title keyed by All-Scholastic ace Tyler Kropis. Abington reached the finals last year and don’t be surprised to see the Green Wave lasting until the final stages of the tournament once again.

Lynnfield was one of the better teams in a good Cape Ann League and John O’Brien’s teams simply don’t beat themselves. East Bridgewater is another team people shouldn’t sleep on.

Seekonk wasn’t the only SCC team to cart home some serious hardware last year. Bourne defeated Hopkins to lay claim to the Div. 5 state title and the Canalmen have the potential to get to the semifinals, where they could be looking at a talented English squad.

Georgetown clearly appears to be the team to beat on the other side of the draw. The Royals set a school-record with 19 wins and have plenty of arms to survive a grueling two-week run to the finals. Carver could very well emerge as a sleeper in Div. 5.


Division 1

State championship: Xaverian over BC High

Sleeper: Franklin

Best first-round game: King Philip at Westford Academy

Potential upset: Chelmsford over Lincoln-Sudbury

Division 2

State championship: Walpole over Mansfield

Sleeper: Westwood

Best first-round game: Masconomet at Whitman-Hanson

Potential upset: Middleboro over Woburn

Division 3

State championship: Hanover over Apponequet

Sleeper: North Reading

Best first-round game: Holliston at Dover-Sherborn

Potential upset: Auburn over Bishop Stang

Division 4

State championship: Seekonk over Abington

Sleeper: East Bridgewater

Best first-round game: Dennis-Yarmouth at Hamilton-Wenham

Potential upset: Tyngsboro over AMSA

Division 5

State championship: Georgetown over English

Sleeper: Bourne

Best first-round game: Boston International at Greenfield

Potential upset: Mystic Valley over Bromfield

Franklin's Matt Miller reacts after crossing the plate during an April 10 game against Taunton. (Chris Christo/Boston Herald)
Franklin’s Matt Miller reacts after crossing the plate during an April 10 game against Taunton. (Chris Christo/Boston Herald)

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