So how do you determine who is the favorite?
Is it Danvers, the No. 2 seed and winners of 21 games this season, the program deep in tradition, pitching and defense, that will emerge victorious in tomorrow’s Division 2 North baseball final at Lowell’s beautiful LeLacheur Park (1 p.m.)?
Or is it Masconomet, winners of 12 straight, a team with three straight playoff shutouts playing its absolute best baseball at the most opportune time of the year?
“I think it’s going to be two really even teams going at it (tomorrow) ... and we’ll see what happens at the end,” said Danvers senior shortstop Evan Eldridge.
Masconomet (18-5) was just over the .500 mark halfway through the season when everything seemed to click for head coach T.J. Baril and his team. Having previously achieved a fulcrum of success at Swampscott High (Danvers’ Northeastern Conference rivals), it admittedly took time for the Chieftains to get used to Baril, and he to his team (and the Cape Ann League itself). But since all the working parts started functioning together, the Tri-Town team has been rolling over its opponents.
Thus far in the playoffs, the fifth-seeded Chieftains have blanked Melrose (9-0), Winchester (4-0) and Dracut (2-0). Joe Klingensmith, a junior righty who spun the shutout to beat Winchester in the quarterfinals, will likely get the call on the hill tomorrow against Danvers.
“We’re 23 games in now, so the guys pretty much know what’s expected of them. And to their credit, they’ve been making the plays and taking good at-bats,” said Baril.
“It took us a while to get to know each other, especially without a preseason with all the (poor) weather we had. It was a matter of getting on the same page and it took us a while, but they’re definitely playing their best ball right now. We’ve got some real good ballplayers on this team.”