New Hampshire Hardball

The State of Baseball: Week 7

By now most NHIAA baseball teams have completed their regular season. Many more will complete theirs Friday.
Since there’s nothing at stake in terms of seeding, it’s time to turn our attention to the postseason, which begins Monday in each of the four divisions. The four championship games will be played June 12 at the following sites:
Division I: Holman Stadium (11 a.m.)
Division II: Holman Stadium (2 p.m.)
Division III: Robbie Mills Field (4 p.m.)
Division IV: Robbie Mills Field (7 p.m.)
Here are the playoff brackets followed by comments and a predicted champion in each division:
NOTE: Region I will play Region II, and Region III will face Region IV in the semifinals in each division.
Region I
No. 1 Bedford (bye) vs. No. 4 Central/No. 5 Memorial winner
No. 2 Trinity (bye) vs. No. 3 Concord/No. 6 Goffstown winner
Team to advance: Concord
Region II
No. 1 Nashua North (bye) vs. No. 4 Nashua South/No. 5 Keene winner
No. 2 Alvirne (bye) vs. No. 3 Bishop Guertin/No. 6 Merrimack winner
Team to advance: Alvirne
Region III
No. 1 Winnacunnet  (bye) vs. No. 4 Dover/No. 5 Exeter winner
No. 2 Portsmouth vs. No. 3 Spaulding
Team to advance: Portsmouth
Region IV
No. 1 Londonderry (bye) vs. No. 4 Windham/No. 5 Salem winner
No. 2 Pinkerton vs. No. 3 Timberlane
Team to advance: Pinkerton
Comment: Division I certainly isn’t lacking depth. There are at least eight teams capable of playing in the championship game, and other teams lurking that have the ability to win a game or two. Winnacunnet, the preseason favorite, may have the most talent, but the Warriors have four losses and will need to play well just to make it out of their region. The two strongest regions appear to be Region III and Region IV and the team that comes out of that half of the bracket will be the favorite to win it all. The guess here is that Bedford, Concord or Alvirne will be the other team in the championship game.
Division I champion: Portsmouth
Region 1
No. 1 Oyster River (bye) vs. No. 4 Pembroke/No. 5 Sanborn winner
No. 2 Coe-Brown vs No. 3 St. Thomas
Team to advance: St. Thomas
Region II
No. 1 Merrimack Valley (bye) vs. No. 4 Plymouth/No. 5 Kennett winner
No. 2 Kingswood vs. No. 3 Laconia
Team to advance: Kingswood
Region III
No. 1 Milford (bye) vs. No. 4 Pelham/No. 5 Hollis/Brookline winner
No. 2 Souhegan vs No. 3 Manchester West
Team to advance: Souhegan
Region IV
No. 1 Hanover (bye) vs. No. 4 Stevens/No. 5 John Stark winner
No. 3 Bow vs. No. 6 Lebanon
Team to advance: Hanover
Comment: Things are messy here, mostly because of the uneven schedules. Hanover is the ony unbeaten team in the division. Yes, the Marauders played a soft schedule, but that doesn’t mean they’re not the best team in the division. Kingswood shut out six of their its eight opponents, and allowed four runs in those eight games. Then there’s Souhegan. The Sabers have four losses, but three of them came against Division I opponents. In the same vein St. Thomas has six losses, but four of those came against Division I teams. Many Division II teams fall into the “good” category. That group includes Hollis/Brookline, John Stark, Coe-Brown, Plymouth and Milford. Envisioning a fair number of upsets in the first two rounds.
Division II champion: Hanover
Region I
No. 1 Newport (bye) vs. No. 4 Mascoma/No. 5 Monadnock winner
No. 2 Kearsarge vs. No. 3 Fall Mountain
Team to advance: Monadnock
Region II
No. 1 Mascenic vs. No. 4 Bishop Brady/No. 5 Conant winner
No. 2 Hopkinton vs. No. 3 Hillsboro-Deering
Team to advance: Bishop Brady
Region III
No. 1 Winnisquam (bye) vs. No. 4 Belmont/No. 5 White Mountains winner
No. 2 Berlin (bye) vs. No. 3 Newfound/No. 6 Inter-Lakes winner
Team to advance: Winnisquam
Region IV
No. 1 Prospect Mountain (bye) vs. No. 4 Somersworth/No. 5 Campbell winner
No. 2 Raymond vs. No. 3 Gilford
Team to advance: Somersworth
Comment: Nowhere is the unfairness of random seeding more clear than in Region II, which has three of top five teams in Division III (Mascenic, Hopkinton and Bishop Brady). Bishop Brady was the pick to advance out of that region, but it will be no surprise at all if Mascenic or Hopkinton is the team that moves on. White Mountains has the best record of any Division III team (10-2), but the Spartans will be involved in a play-in game and might not have their top pitching available if they have to face a dangerous Winnisquam team, which received a bye. Somersworth (5-4) is the only team in Region IV that has a winning record. The winner of the Region I/Region II semifinal will be the favorite to win it all.
Division III champion: Bishop Brady
Region I
No. 1 Farmington (bye) vs. No. 4 Pittsfield/No. 5 Newmarket winner
No. 2 Portsmouth Christian (bye) vs. No. 3 Epping/No. 6 Nute winner
Team to advance: Newmarket
Region II
No. 1 Hinsdale (bye) vs. No. 4 Concord Christian/No. 5 Sunapee winner
No. 2 Franklin (bye) vs. No. 3 Wilton/No. 6 Derryfield winner
Team to advance: Sunapee
Region III
No. 1 Lin-Wood vs. No. 4 Lisbon
No. 2 Woodsville vs. No. 3 Profile
Team to advance: Lin-Wood
Region IV
No. 1 Gorham (bye) vs. No. 4 Groveton/No. 5 Littleton winner
No. 2 Colebrook vs. No. 3 Pittsburg-Canaan
Team to advance: Littleton
Comment: There appear to be five Division IV teams that are a cut above the rest: Lin-Wood (13-2), Sunapee (14-5), Derryfield (7-2), Newmarket (8-3) and Littleton (9-3). None of those five received a bye. There are no byes in Region III, which could work against each of those four teams. The most interesting first-round matchup will take place in Division IV, where Newmarket will meet Pittsfield on Monday. Those teams faced each other in the 2019 Division IV championship game, which was won by Newmarket. Expect form to hold here more than in the other divisions.
Division IV champion: Lin-Wood.
The State of Baseball, a column about baseball in New Hampshire, appears each Friday throughout the high school season. Follow New Hampshire Hardball on Twitter: @603SportsMedia.

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