After looking over each official bracket, I’ve come up with some initial thoughts and reactions. I’ll be back a little later with my predictions, and don’t forget, I’ll be hosting a live LoHud Baseball Chat tonight at 8 to take all of your questions. To see the full playoff schedule, click here for the seedings in each class.
• No. 1s: Well, I was right on three of the four No. 1s, but apparently the information that was given to me on Arlington was wrong. I used a 16-4 record for the Admirals when doing the math, but they actually finished 15-5. That dropped them from No. 1 to No. 4 in a very tight Class AA field, and gave North Rockland the top seed. As I wrote yesterday, the Red Raiders and White Plains had the same 3.9 seeding score, but North Rockland earned the No. 1 spot thanks to a head-to-head win over the Tigers. The other No. 1 seeds came out how I expected. Tappan Zee took No. 1 in Class A thanks to the most bonus points of any team in the class. I actually nailed the top 11 in Class A perfectly in my projections (that’s what we call a virtual pat on the back).
• No real easy path in Class AA: Despite earning the top seed, no one is doing North Rockland any favors. If the Red Raiders escape the first round, they’ll have the Mamaroneck-Mahopac winner waiting in the quarters. If they get past that round, they’ll likely have to face one of the Class AA finalists from last year in the semis – John Jay-EF or defending champ Arlington. It’s not like White Plains has it much easier as the two-seed, with the Ketcham-South winner awaiting them in the quarters and Fox Lane being the Tigers’ potential opponent in the semis. Whoever wins Class AA is really going to have to earn it, because this class goes about 14-deep.
• Look for upsets in Class A early and often: I’ve written many times this year that Class A is the most wide open of any class this year, and I think we’ll see evidence of that right away. Each of the top four seeds has a potentially dangerous opponent lined up for the first round. Tappan Zee (could play Lakeland), Sleepy Hollow (could play Nanuet), Eastchester (could play Panas) and Beacon (could play Hen Hud) are each looking at opponents that have come up with big wins this season and aren’t afraid to play with the big boys. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the top four seeds fall on Wednesday.
• No. 2 might be better off than No. 1 in Class B: The undisputed top two teams in Class B this season earned the top two seeds, but the path seems like it will be more trying for No. 1 seeded Rye Neck. The Panthers could be in line to face one of the best pitchers in Class B if Croton manages to get through the outbracket game without using ace Christian Doughty, and then they would likely have last year’s Class B finalist Keio waiting in the quarters. If Rye Neck reaches the semis, it will likely be either red-hot Pleasantville or two-time defending champ Briarcliff standing in its way. North Salem as the two-seed is lined up with No. 7 Woodlands in the quarters and No. 3 Lourdes in the semis, which are two considerably less threatening games.
• Which first round game to cover? I’m really going to have a tough time deciding on which game to cover on Wednesday. As usual, there are so many that I’d like to see and I’m feeling overwhelmed. The premier matchup in Class AA will be No. 9 Mamaroneck at No. 8 Mahopac. Not only will it likely have the best pitching matchup if both teams use their respective aces (RHP Will Hofmann for the Tigers and LHP Kevin Kernan for the Indians), but it will also feature two extremely proud programs. The best game in Class A for the first round is a bit more debatable. No. 9 Harrison at No. 8 Somers features two of the more successful teams from the class in the last few years, while No. 10 Pearl River at No. 7 Byram is a toss-up game featuring one of the better young coaches in the section (Byram’s Scott Saunders) against his former coach and mentor (Pearl River’s Bruce Miller). Of course, there are many others that I could also make a case for. Let’s hear what you guys think!