WVU draws Maryland in NCAA national baseball tourney
MORGANTOWN – An at-large bid to the NCAA national tournament was West Virginia baseball’s good fortune when the 64-team event was unveiled on Monday.
It has been since 1996 that any Mountaineer team has ever joined the NCAA national tournament … and was the school’s first-ever at-large bid.
West Virginia was one of seven teams from the Big 12 Conference to get into the 64-team field. There are only nine teams in the Big 12 Conference.
After going 12-12 in conference games, West Virginia had a 2-2 record in the league tournament, last losing a 4-3 decision to eventual tournament champion Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State was the No. 8 seed in the eight-team Big 12 tournament field.
The Mountaineers were placed in the Winston-Salem Regional, an event to be hosted by Wake Forest of the Atlantic Coast Conference. West Virginia was awarded the No. 2 seed in Winston-Salem with Wake Forest being seeded No. 1, Maryland No. 3 and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County No. 4.
West Virginia and Maryland play a first-round Regional game at 2 p.m. today (June 2) that will be televised by ESPN3. Wake Forest and UMBC meet in a 6 p.m. game this evening, also to be televised on ESPN3.
There are 16 Regionals spread across the country, all of them with four teams. The 16 Regional survivors move to the Super Regional level. The eight winners of the various Super Regionals go directly to the NCAA Division I College World Series in Omaha.
There were 31 conference champions that received automatic bids to the tournament in addition to 33 at-large bid recipients.
The SEC (Southeastern Conference) had eight bids and the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) received seven bids, the same as the Big 12.
Wake Forest comes to the Regional with a 39-18 record, while UMBC was only 23-23 but won the American East Conference tournament. Maryland, now a member of the Big 12 Conference, went 37-21 overall, but saw Iowa win the conference tournament and the automatic bid that went with it.
There are some rank outsiders in the NCAA event, including Texas Southern (with a 20-32 record), Holy Cross (at 23-27), Radford (coming in with a 27-30 record) and Ohio (at 31-26).
The usual West Virginia lineup has infielders Jackson Cramer, Cole Austin, Kyle Gray and Jimmy Galusky, outfielders/designated hitter Kyle Davis, Darius Hill, TJ Lake and Brandon White, and pitchers Michael Grove, Isaiah Kerns, Braden Zarbnisky, Alex Manoah, Jackson Sigman and Kade Strowd. Ivan Gonzalez has usually been the starting catcher.
The top two seeds in the field of 64 are Oregon State and North Carolina and both of them are host to four-team Regionals.
All 16 Regionals are double-elimination tournaments. The Regional tournament dates are June 1 through June 5 with one event that was to begin yesterday, 15 more today (June 2) and several possibly concluding on Monday, depending on the weather.
As a member of the long-gone Southern Conference, West Virginia went to NCAA District 3 tournaments in 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967. All those District 3 events were played in Gastonia, North Carolina.