Almost tourney time
NHIAA Division I baseball tourney picture about to become clear
When the 16-team field for the NHIAA Division I baseball tournament is released later this month, it may be void of Manchester schools.
With one week remaining in the regular season, Manchester Memorial (3-12) and Manchester Central (3-13) occupy the bottom two spots in the Division I standings. Trinity of Manchester (6-10) is currently in 15th place, and may have to win at least one of its two remaining games to extend its season. Sixteen teams in the 19-team league will advance to the tournament's preliminary round.
Trinity will play at Bishop Guertin on Tuesday night, and will face Timberlane at home on Thursday night.
"This threw a big dagger into things," Trinity coach Ed Poisson said following Trinity's 9-8 loss to Pinkerton Academy of Derry on Friday. "I'm not feeling OK about anything. We have two tough games remaining and to be safe we'll have to get one of those. If we don't win one, then at that point we don't deserve to be in.
"I'd take my pitching staff and put it up against anybody's in the league. The problem with us is we don't play defense."
Central and Memorial have little - if any - room for error. Central has two regular-season games left: home against Salem, and at Bedford. Memorial still has to play at Alvirne, at Nashua South and at home against Spaulding.
Pinkerton (5-11) is another team on the bubble. The Astros have won two in a row - one-run victories over Memorial and Trinity - and would be the No. 16 seed if the tournament began today.
The Astros' remaining schedule: home against Dover, at Winnacunnet and home against Nashua South.
"We're looking at it like we have to win them all," Pinkerton coach Steve Campo said. "I'd say two would definitely clinch it. One and we may need some help."
The races are tight at the top and in the middle of the standings as well. Londonderry is currently alone in first place, but Merrimack, Nashua North and Concord are among the teams that could also earn the No. 1 seed for the tournament, which is scheduled to begin May 30.
The top eight teams will be at home for the preliminary round, and there are currently six teams with seven or eight losses. Those teams all have a chance to finish eighth or higher.
"I feel like there's a lot of good teams out there, even at the bottom of the pack that could compete every day," Pinkerton coach Steve Campo said. "I'll say this: Every team in the state has a kid who could shut down the other team, which makes it very interesting when it's a single-elimination tournament."