There were some tense moments, but Garrett Wittels extended his hitting streak to 53 games Saturday in Florida International's 11-9 win against Florida Atlantic in the Sun Belt tournament. Wittels flew out to deep center in his first three at-bats, then kept the streak alive in the eighth by lining a comebacker at FAU pitcher Tyler Everist for an infield single. Wittels dove head-first into first base to put runners on first and second, setting the stage for Jeremy Patton's go-ahead three-run homer. The win sent the Panthers to the Sun Belt championship game tomorrow against the winner of the Troy-Arkansas State game. Wittels will try to extend his streak to 54 games and extend Florida International's season into next week's regionals.
Florida Atlantic's ouster means the Sun Belt is very likely to earn three NCAA tournament bids, as the Owls and Louisiana-Lafayette (already eliminated) are in good shape to earn at-large spots. That's bad news for other bubble dwellers like Liberty, Wichita State and Florida Gulf Coast, all of whom failed to win their respective conference tournaments.
The Flames lost to top-seeded Coastal Carolina 8-2 in Saturday's Big South championship game, just about assuring the Chanticleers of a national seed. Liberty, meanwhile, finishes with an 0-7 record against the top 50 in the Ratings Percentage Index, seemingly dooming its at-large hopes.
Wichita State, the favorite in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, was crushed in the title game by regular-season co-champion Illinois State, 17-8. The upstart Redbirds, led by one of the nation's top up-and-coming coaches in first-year head coach Mark Kingston, head to regionals for the first time since 1994. The Shockers still have a shot at an at-large bid—they are just outside the top 50 in the RPI—but are just 3-5 against the top 50. That's comparable to FGCU's 2-7 mark, and it's worth noting that Wichita won two of three at FGCU in early March. The Eagles (No. 47) are just a few spots ahead of the Shockers in the RPI, and it's considerably more difficult to construct a good RPI in the upper Midwest than it is in Florida. So give Wichita a slight edge over Florida Gulf Coast if those two teams wind up competing for one spot. Both teams could still get in, but it would probably require back-to-back losses to end the season by Pac-10 bubble teams California and Oregon State.
Elsewhere, Saint Louis upset top-seeded Charlotte for the second time this week to win the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament. The Billikens head to regionals for the first time since 2006, and just the second time since 1966. Charlotte (80th in the RPI) will not earn an at-large bid.
South Dakota State's terrific season is over. The Jackrabbits were jack-hammered 12-2 in the Summit League championship by—who else?—Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles head to regionals for the 13th straight season.
Finally, Central Connecticut State scored four runs in the eighth to earn a come-from-behind 9-6 win against Sacred Heart and force a rematch tomorrow for the Northeast Conference title. Whichever team wins, I'm betting it winds up in nearby Norwich, because Connecticut seems a strong bet to host after winning its third game at the Big East tournament earlier today.
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog