There’s always something really exciting about filling out a bracket. Maybe I’m just a sports geek, but I get a real kick out of going through matchups and trying to make my picks. Of course, I’m always bound to whiff on some, but I’m quite sure that my overall record is well above .500 over the years. Below, I’ve made my picks for every game in every class, and I encourage you all to do the same. Fill out your own bracket the same way that I did in the comments section, and we’ll see who gets the most right over the course of the next week and a half.
No. 17 Greeley over No. 16 Ossining
No. 18 Scarsdale over No. 15 Lincoln
No. 14 Suffern over No. 19 Mount Vernon
Notes: Greeley-Ossining is the most compelling matchup here, and should be very closely contested. The Quakers have come up with some nice wins in the past few weeks, and seem to have a bit more momentum heading it.
No. 1 North Rockland over No. 17 Greeley
No. 2 White Plains over No. 18 Scarsdale
No. 3 Fox Lane over No. 14 Suffern
No. 4 Arlington over No. 13 Carmel
No. 12 Kennedy over No. 5 John Jay-East Fishkill
No. 11 New Rochelle over No. 6 Clarkstown North
No. 10 Clarkstown South over No. 7 Ketcham
No. 9 Mamaroneck over No. 8 Mahopac
Notes: I don’t see any upsets in terms of the top four seeds, but I think we could see a few after that. Kennedy may be the best 12-seed that I’ve seen in the last three years, and the Gaels proved what they are capable of with two wins over Arlington last week. They went through a rough patch in the middle of the year while dealing with some injuries, but they’ve healed up and seem to be playing much better heading into the playoffs. New Ro is a different team with ace John Valente on the mound, and I think that he gives the Huguenots the edge against North. South has already gone to Ketcham and won, so they’ll go in there with plenty of confidence. And in perhaps the game of the day, I think Mamaroneck ace Will Hofmann will outduel Mahopac ace Kevin Kernan. Hofmann has earned the reputation as the big game pitcher, and the Tigers can beat anyone on the days that he pitches. I also think that Mamaroneck has a bit more offensive firepower than the Indians.
No. 1 North Rockland over No. 9 Mamaroneck
No. 2 White Plains over No. 10 Clarkstown South
No. 3 Fox Lane over No. 11 New Rochelle
No. 12 Kennedy over No. 4 Arlington
Notes: I know that this is going to come across as me being down on the Dutchess teams, but it’s really about the matchups. Kennedy beat Arlington in two out of three games this season, so I really don’t even look at that pick as much of an upset. The Admirals have lost four of their last five games coming into the playoffs, so they have been stumbling down the stretch. I think North Rockland takes out Mamaroneck after the Tigers burn their ace in the first round, and the same goes for Fox Lane over New Ro without Valente. South could certainly give White Plains a run for its money, but I think the Tigers are just too deep this year. They have the pitching to move on.
No. 1 North Rockland over No. 12 Kennedy
No. 3 Fox Lane over No. 2 White Plains
Notes: While I think that Kennedy is capable of knocking off top-seeded North Rockland, the Gaels pitching staff has been banged up a bit (ace Schuyler Bates may be able to give them some innings, but he’s coming off of a groin injury and may not be able to start), while the Red Raiders’ staff goes three-deep with Joe Anselmi, Danny Demetrops and Kevin Hylas. That could be a difference there. As for Fox Lane over White Plains, I think we have two pretty evenly matched teams, but the Foxes have the more potent lineup. Against the Tigers’ No. 3 starter, I think they’ll do enough damage to win it.
No. 3 Fox Lane over No. 1 North Rockland
Notes: Fox Lane was my preseason pick to win it all, and I’m sticking with it. I said preseason that the Foxes would have the best lineup in Class AA, and that has held true. But what gives me even more confidence in this pick is the way that some young arms have emerged. Fox Lane has four pitchers – Alec Brown, Andrew Workman, Henry Jacobs and Matt Oniffrey – that have all had success on the mound this season, which gives the team considerably more depth than it had in last year’s postseason. With an experienced senior-laden lineup backing them up, I think this is the year that coach Matt Hillis and the Foxes get it done.
No. 16 Lakeland over No. 17 Yonkers
No. 15 Nanuet over No. 18 Riverside
No. 14 Panas over No. 19 Rye
No. 13 Hen Hud over No. 20 Gorton
No. 12 Saunders over No. 21 Roosevelt
No. 11 Nyack over No. 22 Poughkeepsie
No. 10 Pearl River over No. 23 Port Chester
Notes: With the way that the matchups shake out here, I don’t see any “upsets.”
No. 1 Tappan Zee over No. 16 Lakeland
No. 2 Sleepy Hollow over No. 15 Nanuet
No. 3 Eastchester over No. 14 Panas
No. 4 Beacon over No. 13 Hen Hud
No. 5 Pelham over No. 12 Saunders
No. 6 John Jay over No. 11 Nyack
No. 10 Pearl River over No. 7 Byram Hills
No. 8 Somers over No. 9 Harrison
Notes: I know what you’re thinking: “How does this guy write about how there will be so many upsets in Class A, and then only pick one in the first round?!?” Well, that’s a good question. Maybe you can say that I chickened out, but I think this bracket will get crazier once we hit the quarterfinals. I was very close to picking Lakeland over top-seeded TZ – and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if that happens – but you never know which Hornets team is going to show up, and the Dutchmen have considerably more pitching depth. Nanuet crushed Sleepy earlier in the year, so that game could be an upset special as well, but that was a different Headless Horsemen team from the one that we’ve seen in the last few weeks (and Sleepy also didn’t throw ace Edwin Lopez that day, which I’ll bet they do on Wednesday). Somers will get a chance to get some revenge on Harrison after the Huskies knocked them out last year on their way to a section title, and without reigning TJN Westchester/Putnam player of the year Max Bruckner around, I think that the Tuskers will have the edge.
No. 8 Somers over No. 1 Tappan Zee
No. 10 Pearl River over No. 2 Sleepy Hollow
No. 3 Eastchester over No. 6 John Jay
No. 4 Beacon over No. 5 Pelham
Notes: The toughest call of this round may be the Beacon-Pelham game. The Bulldogs likely won’t have ace Tony Romanelli available after using him in the first round, while the Pelicans will have one of their co-aces (Gjon Ljucovic or David Wright) ready to go. Both are capable of shutting teams down, so Beacon will need a solid pitching performance, but the Bulldogs also might have the best offense in Class A. They are a battle-tested team, and have had a knack for coming up with big wins all year. I like Somers over TZ because the Tuskers can mash and should have No. 2 starter Spencer Ballot going, who has actually had better numbers this year than ace JT Genovese. Eastchester will have one of its co-aces in either Kyle Crimmins or Marc Medico available for this round, which is why I like the Eagles to advance. And I think that Pearl River will get a favorable matchup against a Sleepy team that has not had much success against Rockland county opponents.
No. 4 Beacon over No. 8 Somers
No. 3 Eastchester over No. 10 Pearl River
Notes: When they’re clicking on all cylinders, Beacon and Somers may be the two best teams in Class A, so that will be a fun one to watch. Both teams will have burned through their top pitchers at this point, so this one could be a slugfest. The Bulldogs have been more consistent this year and get my pick in this one. As for the other game, say what you will about Eastchester’s schedule, but I think they’re legit. The lineup is deep, and with Pearl River likely using top pitchers Kevin Considine and John Doherty in the first two rounds, I like the Eagles in this one.
No. 4 Beacon over No. 3 Eastchester
Notes: The pitching should be great in this one, with Romanelli starting for Beacon and Crimmins and Medico both likely being available for Eastchester. Ultimately, I think that the Bulldogs have played the kind of schedule that prepares them for this kind of game, and it doesn’t hurt to have one of the best pitchers in the section on your side.
No. 17 Croton-Harmon over No. 16 Bronxville
No. 15 Valhalla over No. 18 Blind Brook
Notes: These games come down to pitching. The Tigers (Christian Doughty) and the Vikings (Louis Ingrassia) have two aces that they’ll be able to give the ball to.
No. 1 Rye Neck over No. 17 Croton-Harmon
No. 2 North Salem over No. 15 Valhalla
No. 14 Westlake over No. 3 Lourdes
No. 4 Pleasantville over No. 13 Pawling
No. 5 Briarcliff over No. 12 Putnam Valley
No. 6 Ardsley over No. 11 Dobbs Ferry
No.10 Albertus Magnus over No. 7 Woodlands
No. 8 Keio over No. 9 Irvington
Notes: Both Westlake and Albertus Magnus should benefit from playing teams that are probably seeded a bit higher than they should be, which is why I think that both teams make it out of the first round. Two-time champ Briarcliff gets a tough draw with Put Valley, but I expect the Bears to throw ace Spencer Kulman, which should help them get by.
No. 1 Rye Neck over No. 8 Keio
No. 2 North Salem over No. 10 Albertus Magnus
No. 6 Ardsley over No. 14 Westlake
No. 4 Pleasantville over No. 5 Briarcliff
Notes: The toughest game to call here is Pleasantville-Briarcliff, but I think that the Panthers have a bit more pitching depth, while the Bears are a different team without Kulman on the mound. Pleasantville has beat Briarcliff in the most recent meeting, which adds some confidence. Rye Neck has a tough draw in last year’s Class B finalist Keio, but the Panthers already swept the Unicorns this season.
No. 1 Rye Neck over No. 4 Pleasantville
No. 2 North Salem over No. 6 Ardsley
Notes: Rye Neck and North Salem have looked like the best teams in Class B all season, and I see them each taking care of business to reach the final.
No. 1 Rye Neck over No. 2 North Salem
Notes: These teams play very different schedules, so it’s hard to gauge how they’ll match up based on common opponents. Both teams are deep, and both do a lot of things well, so this should be a very clean and fun to watch baseball game. Ultimately, I think that Panthers have a bit more in their lineup and have handled just about every other top team in Class B this season. It just feels like it’s their year.
No. 1 Tuckahoe over No. 4 YMA
No. 2 Haldane over No. Solomon Schechter
Notes: Tuckahoe and Haldane have dominated this class in recent years, and I don’t see it changing quite yet.
No. 2 Haldane over No. 1 Tuckahoe
Notes: Without a doubt, Tuckahoe has had a much smoother season than the defending champs. Haldane has dealt with injuries and unexpected losses, but this is also a team that was one win away from a state championship last year and brings back the top seven hitters from that lineup. The Blue Devils have been getting healthier, and with the way that the Class C playoffs are set up, they’ll be able to use ace Ryan Koval in both the semis and the final. Haldane has some unfinished business at the state level, and I think this group will get to make one run at that state title.
REMINDER: I’ll be hosting a live LoHud Baseball Chat tonight at 8! I’ll be taking any and all playoff questions, so be sure to stop by!