The guys from the Rhode Talk podcast were nice enough to have me on their show this week. We talked mostly URI and Bryant as part of their college baseball wrap-up episode. You can find the episode here (just look for RT Ep. 9: College Baseball) or on the podcast app of your choice. Be sure to give them a follow on twitter @RhodeTalk.
Five teams. Five! It’s a record-breaking NCAA Tournament for New England, who’s never put more than four in the postseason. And we’ve only done that once since the early 70s. No matter what happens this weekend, it’s been a very special season, but in my opinion, more than one of our teams has what it takes to play into the second weekend. After the jump, we’ll take a look at all five: the road they took to get here, the players that led the way, and the once-in-a-lifetime experience they have to look forward to this weekend.
(Also, for more on our second annual Bracket Challenge, check out this week’s other blog post.)
Weekends like this are why I write. Nine New England baseball teams, who’ve had great seasons just to get this far, are one good weekend away from a trip to the College World Series. There’s just nothing else like it. We’ll take a look at the paths all nine of them have taken after the jump.
Last year, I was pretty charitable to the D3 Selection Committee. I thought deserving teams were left at home, but more as a function of the field being too small than the committee picking the wrong teams to fill it. This year, I’m not so sure. Let’s dig in.
Last year, it was the D3 selections that had everybody worked up. This year, D2 decided to hop in on the party too. I’m going to be more open with my opinions than usual below, but as always, if you’re angry or disagree, don’t feel the need to hold back in the comments or on twitter. First, I’ll walk through what I think was the committee’s reasoning, then I’ll offer some thoughts on it. Shall we?
For the second time in this group of seniors’ careers, Sacred Heart is the last program standing in New England college baseball. Last week, the Pioneers took down NEC nemesis Bryant to punch a ticket to the program’s fourth Division I Tournament. In a decisive game seven, the Pios did it in style, coming back from a ninth-inning deficit to beat the team that’s defeated them in each of the past two championships. All in all, that’s not bad for a club that started the year 1-14. After the jump, I take a look at the Pioneers’ season, playoff run, key contributors, and matchups in the tournament.
Regular Northeast-10 watchers have always known the conference provides an excellent brand of baseball, but the national recognition the conference has earned recently has been nice. Attention from scouts, lots of draft picks, and success on the diamond have all built the league’s profile. As this year’s NCAA Tournament field shows, that momentum has kept on rolling. Franklin Pierce, Southern New Hampshire, and Stonehill have engineered great campaigns to separate themselves as the top three teams in the East Region. New England may have missed out on Cary last year, but it’ll be a shock if one of these teams isn’t on a plane to North Carolina next week.
If there’s a best week of the year in New England college baseball, this is it. Between Divisions II and III, more than two dozen NCAA Tournament games happen right in our backyards. For the third straight year, Harwich and Whitehouse Field are the lucky hosts of the Division III New England Regional. If you live anywhere near the Cape, there’s really no excuse not to catch a game or two. This is can’t-miss baseball.
So, now that everything’s cooled off a bit, let’s take a look at the selection committees’ work before we start getting excited for these regionals to kick off. I’ll discuss the at-large decisions, travel arrangements, and tournament format as a Q&A. If there are any questions/issues I don’t address that you’d like me to, let me know, and I’ll add to the post. None of what I say is an endorsement of the committee’s decisions, I’m just trying to explain them.