Conference tournaments across the nation started wrapping up today. Here’s a conference-by-conference look at the teams that punched their tickets to the NCAA tournament Saturday:
Mike Errigo threw a five-hit, complete-game shutout as second-seeded Stony Brook blanked top-seeded Binghamton 6-0 to win the AEC title. Binghamton had shut out Vermont 4-0 earlier Saturday to reach the finals before running out of gas.
Charlotte became the first team since Virginia Tech in 1999-2000 to win back-to-back A-10 titles with a 4-3 win over top-seeded Xavier in 11 innings. For the second straight year, the 49ers waltzed unbeaten through the conference tournament. Cory Tilton scored the winning run from first base after Alex Bryant’s bunt single when the Musketeers threw the ball away trying to get Bryant at first. Charlotte figures to be a tough No. 3 seed in a regional.
Louisville finished its unblemished run through the Big East tournament with a 6-3 win over Cincinnati in the Big East title game. The Cardinals, who overcame a 3-1 deficit with two runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth, will be another No. 3 seed that nobody wants to see in their regional–especially after they reached Omaha as a No. 3 last year.
It wasn’t easy, but Coastal Carolina held off Liberty to win the Big South championship. Liberty needed to beat the undefeated Chanticleers twice to win the double-elimination tournament, and the Flames cruised to a 13-1 win in the first game Saturday. Liberty carried a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth in the decisive second game, but the Chanticleers stormed back with eight runs from the fifth through seventh innings. Coastal entered the day seventh in the RPI, and adding a Big South tournament title to its regular-season title seemingly secures the Chanticleers as a No. 1 seed in a regional. The question remains whether or not Coastal will host, but its case has certainly been bolstered today.
Top-seeded Michigan beat Purdue 3-2 to add a Big Ten tournament title to its regular-season crown. The Wolverines went a perfect 3-0 in the tournament and beat the Boilermakers on back-to-back days. At 35th in the RPI, Michigan is locked into a No. 2 seed and looks like a very strong hosting candidate.
Colonial Athletic Association
Second-seeded James Madison got a complete-game four-hitter from Kurt Houck in a 6-1 win against Towson, giving the Dukes the CAA championship. The Dukes scored 39 runs in four games during their perfect run through the CAA tournament, and their potent offense will make them a dangerous No. 4 seed in a regional.
Rider held off Siena to win the MAAC tournament. The Saints earned a 9-8 win over the Broncs in extra innings earlier Saturday to force a decisive second game, but Rider prevailed 12-5 in a sloppy nightcap that included eight errors.
Second-seeded Eastern Michigan toppled top-seeded defending champion Kent State 12-4 in the MAC championship game. The Golden Flashes made five errors, and the Eagles capitalized with 17 hits to cap their undefeated run through the conference tournament. Give first-year EMU coach Jake Boss a mountain of credit for guiding his team to regionals after an 0-17 start to the season. Eastern Michigan carries a 25-32 overall record to regionals, joining Texas Southern, Eastern Illinois and Mount St. Mary’s as sub-.500 teams in the NCAA tournament.
Wichita State held on for a wild 12-10 win against Missouri State to win the MVC tournament championship. The Bears scored four runs in the eighth to tie the score at 10-10, but Conor Gillaspie answered with a solo homer in the bottom of the frame for the Shockers, who tacked on one more for insurance. With a 29 RPI, the Shockers are likely locked into a No. 2 seed. The Bears are 53rd in the RPI, placing them squarely on the bubble.
Top-seeded Texas Christian needed to beat New Mexico twice after the Lobos edged the Horned Frogs on Thursday, and the defending champs did just that. After pounding New Mexico 9-2 yesterday, TCU cruised to a 15-2 victory in today’s decisive game behind six hits from MVP Clint Arnold, including two doubles and a homer. Arnold went 12-for-18 in the tournament. The Frogs head to regionals for the fifth straight year, and they figure to earn a No. 2 seed.
Fourth-seeded Mount St. Mary’s stunned top-seeded Monmouth to claim the NEC title. The Mountaineers, who lost to Monmouth on the tournament’s opening day, needed to beat the Hawks twice today, and they did just that, winning a pair of games by a 22-5 margin. Mount St. Mary’s recovered from an 0-15 start to the season and finished 21-32, joining Eastern Michigan, Texas Southern and Eastern Illinois as sub-.500 regional teams.
Yet another sub-.500 team headed to regionals is Eastern Illinois, the fourth seed in the OVC tournament. The Panthers topped sixth-seeded Southeast Missouri State 7-5 on Saturday after the Redhawks knocked off top-seeded Jacksonville State earlier in the day. Eastern Illinois recovered from an 0-7 start to reach regionals with a 27-28 mark.
Defending champion Sam Houston State did it again. The Bearkats breezed through the Southland tournament as the No. 4 seed and knocked off second-seeded Lamar 15-7 in the final game Saturday. It’s the second straight year Sam Houston State has run through the Southland tournament as a No. 4 seed.
Ho, hum. Top-seeded Oral Roberts blanked Southern Utah 9-0 to claim its 11th straight conference championship in the Mid-Continent Conference-turned-Summit League. Business as usual for the Golden Eagles, who have a shot at a No. 2 seed in a regional. They were 37th in the RPI heading into Saturday’s action.
San Diego swept a doubleheader against Pepperdine to claim the WCC title for the second straight year. Brian Matusz struck out nine over eight innings and allowed just an unearned run in a 10-1 victory in the opener, and the top-seeded Toreros rapped out 19 hits in the nightcap en route to a 12-4 win.
A quick peek ahead to Sunday’s championship games:
Atlantic Coast: Miami vs. Virginia
Atlantic Sun: Gardner-Webb vs. Lipscomb
Big 12: Texas vs. either Oklahoma State or Kansas State (If the Wildcats beat Baylor tonight, they’ll be 2-1 along with OSU, but Kansas State won the head-to-head game and would have the tie-breaker. If Baylor wins, the Cowboys would have the tie-breaker on the merit of their win against Baylor.)
Conference USA: winner of Sunday’s Marshall-Southern Miss game vs. winner of tonight’s Alabama-Birmingham-Houston game (A Marshall-UAB final would likely ensure CUSA six regional bids, although it could also force Tulane out of an at-large spot)
Horizon: Illinois-Chicago vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Southeastern: Louisiana State vs. winner of tonight’s Mississippi-Vanderbilt game (the Rebels lead 7-3 in the seventh)
Southern: Elon vs. College of Charleston
Sun Belt: New Orleans vs. winner of tonight’s Western Kentucky-Florida Atlantic game
Western Athletic: Fresno State vs. winner of tonight’s Nevada-Hawaii game (Nevada leads 10-3 in the fifth)
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