If you’ve declared the American League East race over and need a little suspense with your baseball, today wouldn’t be a bad time to start checking out some high school ball.

The playoffs get under way today with 26 preliminary games throughout the state. For pure drama, there might not be a better place to go than Lewiston High School, where No. 7 Lewiston, takes on No. 10 Cony. The two teams split their season series in a pair of one-run games, and the Blue Devils are looking for their first tournament win since 1989.

We’ve got lots of other good prelim games in the area, at Oak Hill, Dirigo, Jay, Telstar, Monmouth, Old Town (where Edward Little will be the visitor). If the threat of rain takes today out of the picture, make plans for Thursday’s quarterfinals. If you need to know more about how each tournament breaks down, look no further. Here’s a primer on each class in our region, with some potential match-ups to watch:

Class A East:

Favorites: Bangor and Gardiner

Local team to watch: Oxford Hills, Lewiston, Edward Little

Bangor is the defending state champion and has won 27 straight, but Gardiner’s 6-3 victory in the KVAC championship chipped away at the Rams’ invincibility and earned the 15-1 Tigers, who haven’t lost since Opening Day, a share of the favorites designation. Oxford Hills would be in that company but for two losses to Gardiner. They’d like another shot at the Tigers.

Potential quarterfinal to watch: Lewiston at Gardiner.

Pick: Bangor

Class B West

Favorite: Poland

Darkhorse: Maranacook

Local teams to watch: Poland, Mountain Valley, Maranacook, Lisbon, Oak Hill.

The Knights have won pretty much every way possible this season and are a very balanced team. No. 2 Greely beat everybody but Poland this year. Mountain Valley features MVC Player of the Year Justin Staires, one of the top power hitters in the state. Maranacook and Lisbon are both peaking at the right time. No. 7 Oak Hill had the same seed last year, then won the whole thing.

Quarterfinal to watch: Lisbon at Maranacook. The MVC champion takes on the KVAC champion.

Pick: Maranacook

Class C West

Favorite: Winthrop

Darkhorses: St. Dom’s, Dirigo

Local teams to watch: Winthrop, St. Dom’s, Livermore Falls, Dirigo, Jay, Telstar, Monmouth

Winthrop proved to be the most complete team during the regular season, but it has some work to do to get through this region. St. Dom’s has done it the last three years, but they might be a year away this time. Dirigo has much of the same roster that reached last year’s regional final. I struggled with putting Livermore Falls in the darkhorse spot, but I couldn’t do it with Jay and then likely St. Dom’s waiting for them.

Quarterfinal to watch: Jay at Livermore Falls: Do I need to explain this?

Pick: Winthrop

Class D West

Favorite: Richmond

Darhorses: Buckfied, Rangeley

Local teams to watch: Buckfield, Rangeley

What I have seen and heard about the EWC is that Richmond is again a runaway freight train. I always go with the runaway freight train.

Semifinal to watch (on Saturday): Rangeley at Buckfield. Rematch of last year’s semifinals.

Pick: Richmond


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