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March 19, 2013

Baseball Super Eight? Mistake

Perhaps more than any other high school state tournament, the baseball tournament is almost always filled with surprises.

Take, for instance, the 2009 Gloucester baseball team’s run to the Division 1 North title. The Fishermen were a good team that year, going 16-4 through the regular season, but few put them in the same class as the likes of Lincoln-Sudbury and St. John’s Prep.

Still, they knocked off each of those teams during their storybook run to becoming North champions and proved that they were in the same class as any baseball team in the entire state.

I’m sure plenty of you out there remember that run and remember it well. Hope you enjoyed it, because starting next spring, those kinds of stories may be gone forever, as the MIAA approved a new Super Eight tournament for baseball, passed by the MIAA last week and beginning on a two-year interim basis in 2014.

It’ll follow the same format of hockey’s Super Eight, which is perhaps the most riveting of all of the state’s postseason tournaments and has been proven exciting since its incorporation in 1991.

The difference? Hockey needs the Super Eight. Baseball doesn’t.

The separation between the state’s upper echelon and the rest of the competition in Massachusetts high school hockey is staggering. The Malden Catholics, Catholic Memorials and St. John’s Preps of the world are absolutely in a world of their own, and a Super Eight is really the only way to do things.

It allows the Catholic schools and public school powers like Reading and Hingham to battle against other truly elite teams, while lesser -- but still often very good -- teams battle for the Division 1 and Division 2 crowns.

As has been proven time and time again in baseball, though, that separation just isn’t the same. And, because of that, the tournament is always filled with drama. Last year, you saw a 10-10 Lynn English team knock off Peabody, a D-1 North favorite, in the first round.

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