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Super 8 baseball tournament projecton, Version 2.0

Each week throughout the month of May, leading up to May 26's official selection for the inaugural MIAA Division 1A "Super 8" Tournament, editor Brendan C. Hall will release his latest projection for the eight-team field. This is the second in our series. Last week's projection can be found HERE.

Three teams made strong statements this week, as the Super 8 race heats up. Braintree, with a season split with Bay State rival Newton North, showed it is the real deal. BC High, which closed the week beating contenders Lincoln-Sudbury and St. John's of Shrewsbury, showed signs of second wind after previously playing its way out of this field. And finally, Bridgewater-Raynham showed it is indeed mortal, contrary to popular opinion, after dropping a surprise 7-6 walkoff loss to Durfee after leading 6-1 in the late innings.

With those things considered, here is my latest projection for the eight-team Super 8 field:

1. ST. JOHN'S PREP

Record: 12-1

District: Division 1 North

Last Week's Projection: 2

Last Five Games: 5-0

Key Wins: BC High (8-0), St. John’s of Shrewsbury (6-4, 9 inn.), Catholic Memorial (4-1; 7-6, 8 inn.), Xaverian (5-0, 3-0), Chelmsford (9-4)

Key Losses: Peabody (3-0)

Key Games to Watch: Malden Catholic (May 12), at St. John's of Shrewsbury (May 13), at Gloucester (May 16), at Malden Catholic (May 17), at BC High (May 20), at Danvers (May 24)

Players to Watch: Jr. OF Keith Leavitt, Jr. LHP Justin Snyder, Sr. RHP Evan Roberts, Jr. OF Nick Latham, Sr. SS Max Burt, Sr. 3B Ted McNamara

Outlook: The Eagles have locked up at least a share of the Catholic Conference, and can clinch it outright with at least one win in its final three league contests. As it stands, the Eagles are a virtual lock for the eight-team field; winning the state’s toughest league outright will assure them at least a home game in the first round. The Davidson-bound Roberts has emerged as a Mr. Baseball candidate as well, with his performances over the last several weeks.

2. BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM

Record: 12-1

District: Division 1 South

Last Week's Projection: 1

Last Five Games: 4-1

Key Wins: Lincoln-Sudbury (12-4), Silver Lake (10-0), Marshfield (4-0, 21-1), Acton-Boxborough (6-3), New Bedford (4-1, 13-3), Hingham (10-5)

Key Losses: Durfee (7-6)

Key Games to Watch: Dartmouth (May 15), Hingham (May 17), at Barnstable (May 22)

Players to Watch: Sr. C Joe Freiday, Jr. RHP Jack Connolly, Jr. RHP/INF Andrew Noviello, Sr. OF Corey Dinunno, Sr. 2B Connor Sullivan, Sr. OF Tyler Carey

Outlook: Friday’s loss to Durfee comes as a shock, arguably the biggest upset across Massachusetts so far this season. More startling is the fashion in which they lost, blowing a 6-1 lead in the final two innings to lose via walk off. No Division 1 team has made an undefeated run in over 40 years, so we’ll give the Trojans a mulligan here. But any more losses down the stretch, and one has to wonder how B-R will respond when faced with opponents that challenge them in the late innings.

3. NEWTON NORTH

Record: 12-1

District: Division 1 North

Last Week's Projection: 3

Last Five Games: 4-1

Key Wins: Braintree (2-1, 9 inn.), Xaverian (7-1), Catholic Memorial (4-0), Walpole (7-3)

Key Losses: Braintree (2-1)

Key Games to Watch: BC High (May 16), Waltham (May 23)

Players to Watch: Jr. OF Ben Porter, Sr. C Alex Joyce, Soph. OF Tom Joyce, Sr. 2B John Little, Jr. RHP Theo Resnick, Sr. LHP Teddy Rodliff, Sr. RHP Dylan Sbordone, Sr. 1B Kevin Alexy

Outlook: After the 2-1 loss to Braintree on its own home turf, North finished strong with wins over Framingham and Walpole, the latter long-time coach Joe Siciliano’s 300th career win. Tigers remain ahead of Braintree in our book based on strength of schedule to date, including a 2-0 record against the Catholic Conference. Both North and Braintree have games this week against BC High, which could go a long way to determining seeding.

4. BRAINTREE

Record: 12-1

District: Division 1 South

Last Week's Projection: 6

Last Five Games: 5-0

Key Wins: Newton North (2-1), Walpole (7-1), Quincy (17-1), Wellesley (10-0), Middleborough (8-3), Marshfield (7-0)

Key Losses: Newton North (2-1, 10 inn.)

Key Games Left: BC High (May 17)

Players to Watch: Sr. OF Matt Bickford, Jr. 3B Connor Columbus, Jr. RHP Bobby McNiff, Jr. OF Colin Rios, Sr. C Gino La Rossa, Sr. 1B Dylan Casserly, Jr. DH Cal Berman, Sr. OF Billy Keane

Outlook: Splitting the season series with Newton North, their best resume win to date, keeps the Wamps locked into a spot in the Super 8 and keeps their four-year Bay State Carey title reign alive. Between the Rhode Island-bound McNiff (4-0, 0.23 ERA) and Northwest Oklahoma State-bound Bickford (4-1, 1.08 ERA), the Wamps have the pitching depth to finish off the rest of their league slate cleanly. If they can beat BC High on Saturday, they should be locked in to the field.

5. BOSTON COLLEGE HIGH

Record: 9-4

District: Division 1 South

Last Week's Projection: Missed

Last Five Games: 3-2

Key Wins: St. John’s of Shrewsbury (4-3, 8 inn.; 5-4), Catholic Memorial (1-0), Xaverian (10-9), Chelmsford (8-3), Lincoln-Sudbury (5-0)

Key Losses: St. John’s Prep (8-0), Malden Catholic (6-5, 8 inn.; 8-4)

Players to Watch: Sr. C/1B Andrew Jaehnig, Sr. OF Sean Webster, Sr. 3B/1B Thomas Russo, Jr. LHP Eric Simonelli, Jr. OF Pat Keohane

Key Games Left: At Catholic Memorial (May 12), at Lowell (May 15), at Newton North (May 16), at Braintree (May 17), St. John’s Prep (May 20), at Acton-Boxborough (May 22), Silver Lake (May 23)

Outlook: No team in Massachusetts has a stiffer back-end of its schedule than the Eagles, who are about to endure a stretch of seven games in 11 days –- all against teams that were named to the initial Super 8 Watch List earlier this month. Plain and simple, that’s just wild. If they can take at least five of these final seven, they should secure a spot in the eight-team field. Their pitching, which has been challenged at times this spring, will have to be flawless.

6. ST. JOHN'S (SHREWSBURY)

Record: 11-4

District: Division 1 Central

Last Week's Projection: 5

Last Five Games: 3-2

Key Wins: Leominster (1-0), Algonquin (5-4), Holy Name (12-0), New Bedford (8-6), St. Peter-Marian (7-0)

Key Losses: St. Peter-Marian (4-2, 9 inn.), BC High (4-3, 8 inn.; 5-4), St. John’s Prep (6-4, 9 inn.)

Key Games Left: St. John's Prep (May 13), New Bedford (May 14), Xaverian (May 20), at Shrewsbury (May 22), at Wachusett (May 24)

Players to Watch: Sr. LHP/OF P.J. Browne, Jr. RHP Shane Combs, Sr. LHP Steve D’Agostino, Sr. C Scott Manea, Jr. OF Kevin Quinlivan, Jr. 3B Charlie McDonald, Soph. SS Jake Rosen

Outlook: The Pioneers saved themselves from elimination thanks to a series split with St. Peter-Marian, secured Tuesday with another gem outing from the Notre Dame-bound Combs. Though they have scheduled more Catholic Conference schools than anyone else, they’ve got nothing but one-run or extra-inning losses to show for it so far. They’ll need to at least knock off Xaverian, suddenly a spoiler, and salvage a split with Prep to keep themselves locked in here.

7. SPRINGFIELD CATHEDRAL

Record: 11-4

District: Division 1 West

Last Week's Projection: Missed

Last Five Games: 4-1

Key Wins: Westfield (3-0), Amherst (4-3, 12-2), Agawam (15-8, 4-2), Pittsfield (4-0), Springfield Central (3-2)

Key Losses: West Springfield (4-0), Chicopee (18-3), Ludlow (5-4), East Longmeadow (8-5)

Key Games Left: At Westfield (May 13), St. Peter-Marian (May 15)

Players to Watch: Sr. C Andrew Noonan, Jr. RHP/INF Peter Crinella, Sr. 3B Manny Alvarado, Jr. SS Nate Jurkowski, Sr. OF Matt Kenney, Sr. RHP Kevin Hassett

Outlook: This spot continues to fluctuate between West Side, Westfield, and the aforementioned Panthers. With Cathedral and Westfield putting in solid work this last week, while West Side dropped a loss to Northampton, we give the Panthers based on head-to-head (beat Westfield 3-0 on April 21) and record against common opponents (9-3, to Westfield’s 8-3). Cathedral goes for a series sweep of Westfield on Tuesday, then has a crucial contest with St. Peter-Marian Thursday at Forest Park. If they win both, they are looking pretty good for the eight-team field.

8. MASCONOMET

Record: 14-0

District: Division 2 North

Last Week's Projection: 8

Last Five Games: 5-0

Key Wins: Beverly (15-1), North Reading (3-0), Swampscott (4-1), Pentucket (5-1, 6-1)

Key Losses: None

Key Games to Watch: Newburyport (May 15), North Reading (May 17)

Players to Watch: Sr. RHP/2B Will Twiss, Sr. RHP/1B Joe Klingensmith, Jr. OF Greg Dougherty, Sr. SS Dan Dempsey, Sr. C Mike Manni, Soph. OF Elias Verinos, Jr. RHP Ethan Dyer, Sr. OF Tommy Budrewicz,

Outlook: We’ve previously labeled B-R’s Joe Freiday as the favorite for ESPN Boston’s Mr. Baseball award, but Klingensmith has been making a good case the last several weeks, with an OPS of 1.432, 16 RBI and three homers to go along with some dominant numbers on the mound (6-0, 30 IP, 53 K, 0.23 ERA, .890 WHIP). As was the case last week in our first projection, Chieftains get into this field as long as Division 1 contenders continue to play themselves out of the running, thanks to a weak schedule.