Athens Regional Capsule

No.
1 Georgia (41-19)
Seventh
appearance, at-large, Southeastern, No. 7 national seed

No.
2 Florida State (42-19)
44th
appearance, at-large, Atlantic Coast

No.
3 Jacksonville (42-17)
10th
appearance, at-large, won Atlantic Sun regular season

No.
4 Sacred Heart (26-28)
First
appearance, automatic, won Northeast tournament

Georgia
looks like it’s repeating the late-season run that led it to Omaha in
2004. The Bulldogs won 12 straight late in that season and ran off 13
consecutive wins as the 2006 regular season came to a close. Junior
first baseman Josh Morris is one of four players in the tournament to
hit 20 homers this year, and he anchors a lineup that led the SEC
with a .311 average thanks to junior outfielders Jonathan Wyatt
(.357) and Joey Side (.343, 10 homers), who bat 1-2 in the order.
Junior righthander Brooks Brown brings power stuff to the rotation
(7-3, 3.86, 105 strikeouts), but Georgia’s biggest weapon is a
bullpen combo of senior lefthander Rip Warren, who led the team with
eight wins and a 3.10 ERA in 27 appearances, and closer Joshua
Fields, who saved 14 games and recorded a 49-7 strikeout-walk ratio
in 43 innings with his upper-90s fastball.

Florida
State
is the only team in the country to appear in
super-regionals every year since the field expanded to 64 teams in
1999. Keeping that streak alive might be difficult for a club that
didn’t win a three-game series against a team that made this year’s
NCAA tournament until it beat North Carolina State twice on the final
weekend of the regular season. Junior center fielder Shane Robinson
led the ACC in runs and Florida State in batting, but his junior
stats (.350, 74 runs, 90 hits, 31 steals) were down from his stunning
sophomore campaign (.427, 96 runs, 122 hits, 49 steals). Right
fielder Jack Rye actually emerged as more of an offensive threat with
a .345/.473/.617 year that included 12 homers. Junior righthanders
Bryan Henry (9-3, 2.65, 97 strikeouts) and Tyler Chambliss (11-4,
2.87, 107 strikeouts) serve as the twin aces, though the third spot
in the rotation has been a revolving door based on matchups and hot
streaks.

Jacksonville
blasted through the Atlantic Sun regular season but got bounced from
the tournament in three games. It played without injured third
baseman Daniel Murphy (.394-6-54), though he delivered a game-winning
pinch-hit in Jacksonville’s first tournament game. The Dolphins need
his bat back in at least a DH role if they’re to end a 16-game losing
streak against Florida State, a team that swept four midweek games
between the two teams in 2006. Jacksonville will throw sophomore
lefthander Matt Dobbins (12-0, 2.79), the A-Sun pitcher of the year,
against FSU. He’s a great story after spending his freshman year as a
part-time outfielder/DH and making just three appearances as a
pitcher.

Sacred
Heart
appeared in five NCAA Division II regionals before moving
up a level, reaching the D-II World Series in 1976 and 1992. This
marks the first NCAA tournament appearance at the Division I level
for the Pioneers, which finished their season with a season-best
seven consecutive wins. The streak stops here for a team that ranked
fourth in its league in runs (282) and ERA (5.52).

College | #2006 #Postseason #Regional

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