BROCKTON, Mass. ---- The Massasoit baseball team will face the top-seed Northern Essex Knights in a best-of-three game series for the Region 21 Championship, set to begin Friday at 5 p.m. at Trinity Stadium in Haverhill, Mass.
Game 1: Friday, May 13 at 5 PM
Game 2: Saturday, May 14 at 6 PM
Game 3: Sunday, May 15 at 1 PM (if necessary)
Massasoit Warriors (17-17, 9-3)
The Warriors are vying for their first Region 21 Championship and trip to the NJCAA World Series since 2007. After a tough 2-7 start by playing some stiff competition during the annual Florida spring break trip, Massasoit played .600 baseball, posting a 15-10 record during the New England portion of its schedule
The Warriors took care of business within their division, owning a 9-3 record against Division III foes in Region 21, with two of the losses coming against Northern Essex. Massasoit enters the tournament winners of three of its last four ball games.
26 In A Row
Under head coach Tom Frizzell, the Warriors have now qualified for the Region 21 Tournament in all 26 seasons he has been the team's skipper. For his career, Frizzell owns an overall record of 707-345, with eight regional crowns and has made three trips to the NJCAA World Series, winning it all in 1993.
If the Warriors were to defeat Northern Essex, Massasoit would earn an automatic bid to the 2016 NJCAA World Series, scheduled for May 28 through June 2, held at Grainger Stadium in Kingston, N.C.
Offensively, the Warriors have hit at a .287 clip for the season, averaging just over five runs per contest. Tyler Morini (Plymouth), the team's designated hitter, has been a force in the batter's box during his second year in Brockton. The sophomore is hitting .434 on the season, with 21 RBI, 20 runs scored and 12 multi-hit contests.
Sophomore Kevin Huscher (Middleboro) is next in the batting average column, hitting .380 in his first year with the Warriors after transferring from GateWay CC in Arizona. Huscher has also played solid defense up the middle manning the shortstop position in addition to scoring a team-high 27 runs and clubbing nine doubles.
Other key contributors up and down the Warrior lineup include catcher Dylan Ashburn (Norton), second baseman Bryan Dwyer (Abington) and centerfielder Alex Carey (East Bridgewater). Ashburn owns a .311 batting average with six doubles and 18 RBI and Dwyer has hit .302 with 21 runs scored. Carey tops the team in extra-base hits with 15, including four homers and also leads the Warriors with 30 RBI.
On Friday, the Warriors will send sophomore lefty Jake Stearns to the mound, who has produced a standout out second season at Massasoit.
The southpaw owns a 6-1 record with a microscopic 1.46 ERA to go along with 66 strikeouts to only 12 walks in 55.2 innings of work. Stearns was named NJCAA Division III National Pitcher of the Week earlier in the season after firing a perfect game with a career-high 13 strikeouts against MassBay. Stearns posted four games with 10-or-more strikeouts during the season and will be facing Northern Essex for the first time this year.
As a staff, Massasoit posted a 5.38 ERA, but has seen plenty of bright spots down the stretch. Sophomore Zack Reid of Dighton (3-5, 4.91 ERA) fired a one-hitter in his last outing against Holyoke CC. Freshman James Bussiere of Norwood, held Northern Essex to just two earned runs in 6.1 innings to earn the win in the two team's last meeting.
Northern Essex Knights (19-14, 10-2)
The Knights have captured four consecutive Region 21 Championships and boast a divisional record of 10-2 entering the 2016 tourney.
Overall, Northern Essex has been an offensive juggernaut, hitting .353 as a team with 18 home runs and 89 stolen bases. Per game, the Knights average 8.1 runs per game.
Individually, Traverse Briana is hitting a sizzling league-best .525 for the season with 14 doubles and 30 RBI. Outfielder Colby Maiola has also been a force in the middle of the Knights lineup, posting a .452 batting average and incredible .925 slugging percentage. Maiola has 22 extra-base hits, including a region-best eight homers and 35 RBI.
As potent as the Knights have been on offense, the pitching staff has not been nearly as dominant. Northern Essex enters the weekend with a team ERA of 5.62.
Top starter for the Knights has been Evan Glew, who will more than likely start game one. The lefty is a perfect 7-0 with a 3.21 ERA with 61 strikeouts.
A trio of sophomores in LHP Anthony Dally (3-2, 4.67 ERA), RHP Giannni Esposito (0-4, 5.34 ERA) and RHP Robert Barry (2-4, 7.84 ERA) will also see time on the bump for the Knights.
The last game that Northern Essex played was a 9-3 loss to Massasoit on May 5.
Northern Essex leads the 2016 series against Massasoit, 2-1.
The Knights defeated the Warriors by identical 11-0 scores in a doubleheader back on April 16 in Brockton.
Massasoit bounced back in the third meeting, claiming a 9-3 victory in a rain shortened seven-inning affair in Northern Essex.