WESTFIELD, Mass. – The Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference announced the bracket for its Baseball Championship, and Massachusetts Maritime Academy will receive a first-round bye before playing its first tournament game at home on Friday. It is the third time that the Bucs won a share of the conference title.
Due to a tie-breaker, Westfield State drew the No. 1 seed after matching the Buccaneers with a 10-4 record in league play. Like Maritime, the Owls will sit out the first round on Thursday before hosting the final rounds of the championship on Saturday and Sunday.
Head Coach Mike Kelley will not know his team's opponent until Thursday night as the Bucs will take on the winner of MCLA at Framingham State University, a game that is scheduled for a 7 p.m. first pitch. The Bucs will then play that team on Friday at 3 p.m. at newly re-opened Hendy Field.
The Navy-and-Gold are guaranteed a second game of the tournament, to be played at WSU. Were the Bucs to win, they would play at 12:30 against the winner of Westfield versus the numbers four and five seeds (Fitchburg State University and Salem State University). A defeat would send them to the loser's bracket and a 9:30 a.m. contest versus the losers of that game.
The Buccaneers are led offensively by a trio of seniors, Logan Sullo, Connor Kennedy, and Casey Furnas. Sullo, the Academy's all-time home run leader, has seen very few strikes in the season's second half and leads the conference in on-base percentage (.505) and slugging percentage (.662), while hitting .324.
Kennedy is slashing .314/.366/.461 as one the program's all-time leading hitters. The rightfielder has turned up the power of late, hitting two home runs in his last six games. Furnas will finish his career with his finest offensive season, hitting .315 with a team-leading 10 sacrifice bunts.
Jackson Simone hit two decisive home runs in the weekend's Hendy Field Re-Opening doubleheader with Worcester State University and is five for his last nine. Nick Haley is 6-for-16 in the past four games, including four doubles and a home run.
Meanwhile, the pitching staff is anchors by a pair of freshman aces. John Teehan is making his case of MASCAC Rookie of the Year as he among the conference leaders in ERA, wins, saves, complete games, and strikeouts per nine innings. Teehan has allowed only four earned runs in his last 33 1/3 frames for an ERA of 1.08 in that span, during which has struck out 39 batters.
Mason Ashburn has been impressive as well, going 4-2 as well and compiling a 3.65 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 44 1/3 frames, improving his control as the season has worn on. Sophomore Matt Smith has had his moments as well and is third in games and innings while whiffing 43 batters in 41 frames.
The 2018 MASCAC champion will be crowned on Sunday in the double elimination tournament. Worcester won the 2014 and 2017 tournaments but did not qualify this year, while the only other postseason champion in the past half-decade has been Salem.
Game are scheduled for nine innings and a 12-run mercy rule comes into effect after seven innings of play. Other tournament rules include that the host team has its choice of dugouts, with the higher ranked seed making the selection once the teams move to Westfield.
Gabriel Fidler, Sports Information Associate