Bubble Wrap: Nine Schools Grab Automatic Bids

The Division I baseball committee is formulating the 64-team field for the NCAA Tournament, with the field being announced Monday at noon on ESPN2.

Some parts of that job are easier than others, in particular the automatic qualifiers—teams that won their league championship. Most of those are being settled this week with conference tournaments, including nine that were decided Saturday night. Here’s a quick rundown of those championship winners.


After forcing an if-necessary game earlier in the day, Davidson knocked off top-seeded VCU 11-4 in the finals of the 2017 Atlantic 10 tournament at Saint Louis’ Billikens Sports Complex, to claim its first-ever league championship—and NCAA Tournament berth—in the program’s 115-year existence.

It’s also the school’s first team to capture an A-10 tournament title since joining the league in July 2014 after 74 years in the Southern Conference. The Wildcats (32-24) got five home runs in the tournament from co-MVP Alec Acosta in the event after the junior had hit one previously in his career.


For the first time in program history, Florida Gulf Coast (42-18) earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament as the third-seeded Eagles fought back from a two-run, ninth-inning deficit to defeat No. 1 seed Jacksonville (36-2), 4-3, in 10 innings Saturday in the ASUN Championship final. The Eagles entered the day needing to defeat the Dolphins twice, and that’s exactly what they did with a 4-2 win in the first game.

FGCU won four games in a 29-hour span and five games during the league tournament. The 42 wins is a program record, with senior Sterling Koerner making his first start of the year and pitching into the seventh inning to get the win in the title game. The team’s closer has a team-high 12 saves.


Fourth-seeded Delaware generated all the offense it would need with a nine-run first inning and defeated second-seeded and host UNC Wilmington, 10-3, to capture its first CAA baseball title on Saturday afternoon at Brooks Field.

The Blue Hens (34-21) advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001 when it was a member of the America East Conference. Delaware, which out-scored opponents 38-14 while rolling through the tournament with a 4-0 record, had made three previous trips to the CAA title game and had twice fallen to the Seahawks.


Host Illinois-Chicago won its fifth league crown and tied a school record with its 39th victory, beating Wright State 4-2 Saturday in the tournament championship game. A two-run triple by David Cronin, part of a three-run fifth inning, led the way for the Flames, who earned their first NCAA tournament bid since 2008.


Marist won its first MAAC title since 2009, beating Iona 5-1 Saturday at Sal Maglie stadium. Freshman Patrick Lightner had two hits while junior Andrew Rouse added a solo homer. Junior Scott Boches fell one out short of a complete game and had a season-high 10 strikeouts in the title game.


Top-seeded Tennessee Tech (40-19) powered past Belmont 16-4 in the OVC title game, the Golden Eagles’ fifth league championship and first since 2009. It’s the first time Tech has won the regular season and tournament in the same year since 1997.

Tennessee Tech didn’t make an error in the tournament and had 19 hits and 16 runs in the title game. Senior Evan Fraliex tossed five five-hit innings, giving up three runs, before senior Kit Fowler tossed four relief innings and struck out a career-high 10 for his second save of the season.


Sam Houston State defeated Central Arkansas 9-4 in Saturday night’s championship game at Constellation Field. The Bearkats led from the beginning and rolled to a convincing win to claim the league’s automatic berth in next week’s NCAA Tournament.

The third-seeded Bearkats earned their fifth time in six years by leading for 31 of the 34 innings they played in the league tournament. Sam Houston starter Dakota Mills retired the first 13 hitters he faced on his way to pitching 5 2/3 innings for his seventh win of the year. Meanwhile, tournament MVP Robie Rojas had two hits and knocked in the team’s first run, while nine-hole hitter Tayor Beene had four RBIs. SHSU (40-20) posted its first back-to-back 40-win seasons in program history.


Top-seeded Oral Roberts won its 18th Summit League baseball title and third straight, blanking North Dakota State 7-0 in the title game. The Golden Eagles (42-14) got a shutout from ace Miguel Ausua (11-2), his first career complete game. He allowed five hits and walked none while striking out five to earn tournament MVP honors.


Senior Justin Dillon earned MVP honors by winning his second start of the WAC tournament on short rest, tossing five shutout innings Saturday in a 5-0 championship-game win for Sacramento State. Cal State Bakersfield had just four hits against Dillon and relievers Tanner Olson and Austin Root, with Root picking up his third save of the year.

Dillon tossed 12 innings on the week, allowing one run on six hits while striking out 12 overall.

Atlantic 10 Davidson
Atlantic Sun Florida Gulf Coast
Big West Long Beach State
Colonial Delaware
Horizon Illinois-Chicago
Ivy League Yale
Metro Atlantic Marist
Mid-Eastern Bethune-Cookman
OVC Tennessee Tech
Pac-12 Oregon State
Patriot Holy Cross
Southland Sam Houston State
SWAC Texas Southern
Summit League Oral Roberts
West Coast BYU
WAC Sacramento State

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