North Adams, MA- After winning the MASCAC regular season title, the Westfield State Owls have earned the top spot in the MASCAC Tournament which will begin on Thursday, May 4 with the first round games.
Starting off the tournament is the first round which has third seed Fitchburg State hosting sixth seed Framingham State at 3 pm then fourth seed Worcester State entertaining fifth seed MCLA at 3:30. Top seed Westfield State will host the winner of Worcester State/MCLA at 3 while second seed Salem State will face off with the winner of Fitchburg State/Framingham State at 3:30.
The games will continue on Saturday at Westfield State beginning at 9:30 am with the semifinals and then the championship on Sunday with the winner earning the MASCAC's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
The Trailblazers are making their first appearance into the postseason tournament since 2009. MCLA enters play Thursday with a record of 12-17 which included a 6-8 run through conference play. The matchup with Worcester State is a rematch of the final MASCAC weekend in which the Lancers swept a pair of games from the Trailblazers in North Adams.
Last weekend, the Lancers received a pair of outstanding pitching performances from Tyler Barrie and Luke Brennan as they handled MCLA 5-1 and 9-0 respectively. The duo allowed just four hits all afternoon including a one hit shutout from Brennan. One of the two is expected to start for Worcester on Thursday.
MCLA has had a balanced attack all season long, but recently has fallen into a funk offensively. The Trailblazers enter Thursday having lost four straight games, but have also scored just four runs in those contests. The Trailblazers are paced offensively by sophomore Jonathon Parker who enters the tournament batting .318. The lefty has a pair of doubles and a triple while driving in 8 runs. Myles Candelet and Joe Dimassimo have also had solid seasons batting .299 and .294 respectively. Dimassimo leads the team in RBI with 19 on the season.
The Trailblazer pitching staff will be tested against the Lancers as WSU checks in batting at a .296 clip. Adam Barry leads the offense hitting .361 with 3 HR's and 29 RBI. Jake Ryan isn't too far behind checking in at .346 with 3 homers and 20 RBI. The Lancers have four regulars batting over .300 on the season.
The winner of the quarterfinal round matchup will move into the double elimination portion of the tournament starting on Friday against Westfield State. The winner of the MASCAC championship gets an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Last season, the Salem State Vikings defeated the Mass. Maritime Academy to advance into the NCAA's.