No Clear MAAC Baseball Favorite As Tournament Nears
With only about a week until the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship tournament begins, it still hasn’t become clear who the favorite to win it all is. There is a three-way tie for first place right now between Marist, Monmouth, and Quinnipiac.
All have clinched the playoffs, but the final couple of regular season games will determine who comes out on the very top.
The trio of teams are all knotted at a 14-7 conference record, yet Marist has the best overall record. Currently at 26-18, they are on a tear, having won 16 of their last 20 contests. Monmouth is also on fire, with a 13-2 stretch and a 26-18 record in all games.
Quinnipiac began the season very well, but has struggled a fair amount recently. They have lost 11 of their last 20 games, including a pair of matchups against Marist. In a three game series, the Bobcats fell to the Red Foxes by scores of 3-5 and 3-9 after winning the first game 7-6.
Their newfound struggles might be enough to get them eliminated early, depending on who they play. Offensively, they need to continue slugging. With the 4th best team average in the conference at .272, this aspect of the game is necessary if they want to make a run.
At this point, it’s arguably safe to come to the conclusion that Marist is the most probable team to win the championship. When the Foxes faced off against Monmouth in a series, they took two of the three games. On the other side of the story, Monmouth won the first game 13-6, and fell by close scores of 3-5 and 4-5 (in 10 innings).
There are cases to be made for all sides, so it’s honestly all up in the air. Marist is 2nd in team average (.279) and 5th in team ERA (4.86), so slack on either side of the ball might end up biting them.
Anthony Lazar has proved to be on of their most important weapons, hitting .321 with six dingers and 27 RBI. He’s definitely made his case for MAAC Player of the Year, and the junior infielder might hear his name called by an MLB club in June.
Monmouth has had great stretches in both hitting and pitching, but it seems that the mound is what’s most valuable for them. They’re being led by workhorse starter Dan Klepchick, who has had 12 impressive starts.
With just a 3.53 ERA and a fantastic 5-1 record, the freshman has proved he can get it done. Both a Rookie and Pitcher of the Year candidate, he’s struck out 64 batters in 74 innings, and opponents are hitting just .220 against him. Klepchick has won MAAC Rookie of the Week twice this year, as well as Player of the Week once.
MAAC regular season play is slated to end on the 19th of May, and the playoffs start very quickly just four days after that. Don’t count out any of the first-place teams, as all of them have shown impressive glimpses worthy of a championship.
The 2018 MAAC Baseball Championship Tournament takes place from May 23 to the 26, and will be played in Richmond County Bank Ballpark, also home to the Staten Island Yankees of the NY-Penn League. Tickets can be purchased here.