WMass baseball tournament: South Hadley back on top in Division 3

By ELLIOT WELD

For the Gazette​

Published: 05-31-2017 12:14 PM

GREENFIELD — For a second straight year, the South Hadley baseball team was awarded the No. 1 seed in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament.

Tigers coach Matt Foley said the end of the season was hard on his team, but he was satisfied with the results.

“We had eight games in 12 days but at the end we won seven of those and only lost to Northampton, who’s a good Division 1 team,” Foley said. “The main thing is getting a home game and getting a bye and not having to play on Thursday.”

South Hadley (15-5) will host the winner between No. 9 Pioneer Regional (11-9) and No. 8 Greenfield (11-9) in the quarterfinal round.

Frontier (13-5) earned the third seed with the fourth best record. The Red Hawks were rated with the fourth best strength of schedule and fourth best record against qualifying teams. (Seeds based on the Walker System, which ranks teams based on overall record, strength of schedule and record against qualifying teams.)

“We expected to be a 3-5 so we came out on the top side of that prediction,” Frontier coach Chris Williams said. “We have a young team, we shook off the cobwebs pretty early in the season. We’ve been playing our best baseball recently.”

Williams expects the few upperclassmen on his team to lead going into the playoffs.

“We had a lot of guys working hard in the offseason and holding guys accountable,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in the upperclassmen to show the younger guys how it’s done.”

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Frontier will host No. 6 Hoosac Valley (13-7) in the quarterfinals.

Division 4

Smith Academy first-year coach Mike Afflitto guided the Falcons (8-10) to a No. 3 seed. The Hampshire East co-champs had the strongest schedule in the D-4 field.

“I was a little surprised. I was hoping for at least one home game but I think most people were a bit surprised,” Afflitto said.

The Falcons will play the winner between No. 11 Commerce (11-9) and No. 6 Hopkins Academy (8-10) in the quarters.

“We’re just hitting our stride at the right time. Our pitching and defense are playing great. We’re feeling very confident,” Afflitto said.

Granby (16-5) earned the No. 4 seed and will host No. 13 Sabis (9-10) in the first round.

The Rams took back-to-back losses against No. 1 seed Ware and No. 2 St. Mary before finishing their regular season with six straight wins, all of which were decided by nine runs or more. Just two of the teams beaten in that streak qualified for the tournament.

Hopkins qualified for the tournament through the Sullivan rule but got a boost with the second strongest schedule. Coach Dan Vreeland said that the seeding was about what he expected, but has high hopes for his team in the tournament.

“I would have been happy with a 5 or 6, and we get to play against a good Commerce team,” Vreeland said. “I think we couldn’t be playing better than we are right now. We’ve won three of our last four and scored 11 runs in that walk-off win against Greenfield.”

Hopkins hosts Commerce at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Division 1

Northampton (14-6) was given the seventh seed and will visit No. 2 Minnechaug in the quarterfinals.

The Blue Devils were 1-2 in their last three games of the regular season. They lost 5-4 at Minnechaug on May 22.

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