Following in the footsteps of other MIAA sports, the Baseball Committee subscribed to the theory that more will make everyone merrier.
The committee voted unanimously to go to from four divisions to five starting in 2021, rejecting the idea of six divisions. The proposal will go to the Tournament Management Committee for consideration.
“When I first heard about this, I was worried because I thought we might be looking at 80 percent of the teams getting into the tournament,” said Xaverian baseball coach Gerry Lambert, who is also the president of the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association. “But when you look further into it, it does appears that it’s going be right around 50 percent of the teams getting in, so that’s a good ratio.”
Each division will have close to 65 teams, which will allow for nearly 50 percent of the teams to qualify for the tournament. Currently, the divisional breakdown is as such: Div. 1 (63), Div. 2 (66), Div. 3 (65), Div. 4 (66) and Div. 5 (65). Schools that don’t like their current placement and wish to appeal to reclassify can appeal to the Tournament Management Committee.
Teams that want to move up can do so without someone else being displaced. One school mentioned was Pope Francis. The Cardinals are currently in Div. 4, but the school would prefer to move up to Div. 2, something the TMC would likely grant.
The committee discussed the future of the Div. 1A tournament. State baseball tournament director Bob McNamara made an impassioned plea that the tourney should remain.
“The Div. 1A tournament has made Div. 1 much better,” McNamara said. “You’re bringing in teams that would not have been there before. Norwood made the state finals two straight years and Needham won a state championship. Before those teams would have faced a BC High, a Xaverian, a St. John’s Prep.”
The manner in which teams were selected was reviewed. Normally, the Div. 1A Super 8 baseball committee would choose the teams and MaxPreps would seed them.
Some schools expressed concern Div. 1 programs could have an advantage. Austin Prep has been a top-tier Div. 3 school that some felt belonged in the field, but was left out. While the tournament has been a predominantly Div. 1 field, North Andover struck a blow for Div. 2 when it made the field as the eighth and final seed, then proceeded to sweep through to the title.
“The goal has always been to find the eight best teams in the state regardless of divisions,” said Lowell athletic director David Lezenski, who also serves as the North Baseball Tournament Director. “Last year, North Andover got in and proved they were the best team in the state.”
There was some talk over the pitch count rule, namely how to properly record it. Lezenski said an added expense for purchasing software to record pitch counts was troubling, especially since he’s trying to keep from cutting programs at the sub-varsity level.
Following National Federation rules, this is a mandate for varsity pitchers. Anyone who throws 1-25 pitches can come back the next day. Those who throw 26-50 pitches require one day’s rest, 41-55 pitches would be two days, 56-70 pitches need three days’ rest and anyone throwing 71-115 pitches (which is the maximum allowed), would not be able to come back for four days.
If a pitcher has thrown 71‐90 pitches on the day he last pitched, on his fourth day of rest, he would be eligible to throw a maximum of 25 pitches.
Lambert also addressed the possibility of coaches being able to have contact with players in the summer, given they lost the spring season due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was agreed that they would take it to the Board of Directors for further guidance.