PISCATAWAY, NJ – Phase one of the waiting game for the Rutgers baseball team is over, as the NCAA announced the sites for the 16, four-team first-round regionals this afternoon. Should the Scarlet Knights earn a spot in the 64-team field when the announcement is made on Monday at 12:30 p.m. (espn2), they will surely have a lengthy journey ahead.
The 16 regional sites, with host institutions and records through May 24,
are as follows:
Tempe, Arizona (Arizona State, 49-12)
Auburn, Alabama (Auburn, 40-19)
Fullerton, California (California State, Fullerton, 43-13)
Tallahassee, Florida `(Florida State, 50-9-1)
Atlanta, Georgia (Georgia Tech, 41-16)
Long Beach, California (Long Beach State, 38-18)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Louisiana State, 40-18-1)
Coral Gables, Florida (Miami, Fla., 39-14-1)
Starkville, Mississippi (Mississippi State, 40-18-1)
Lincoln, Nebraska (Nebraska, 44-16)
Wilson, North Carolina (North Carolina State, 42-15)
Houston, Texas (Rice, 47-10)
Hattiesburg, Mississippi (Southern Mississippi, 44-14)
Palo Alto, California (Stanford, 40-15)
Austin, Texas (Texas, 42-17)
College Station, Texas (Texas A&M, 43-17).
Fourteen of the 16 regionals will take place on campus, excluding North Carolina State (Fleming Stadium in Wilson, North Carolina) and Arizona State (Diablo Stadium in Tempe). Rutgers has visited two of the sites during the ’03 regular season (Coral Gables, FL and Atlanta, Georgia) and played in the Lincoln, NE NCAA Regional in 2001.
The Scarlet Knights must now wait until 12:30 p.m. on Monday, when their name will hopefully appear within one of the 16 aforementioned brackets. After appearing in four-straight NCAA tournaments, RU was left out of the field in 2002. This season, the team has posted a 36-20 record, captured the BIG EAST Regular Season title and, for the second time in as many years, advanced to the BIG EAST Championship round, only to fall to Notre Dame, which failed to earn a regional site despite a national ranking and BIG EAST Tournament Championship on its resume.
“We are hopeful, but you never know how things will play out,” said head coach Fred Hill, who has taken his team to nine tournaments in his previous 19 seasons at the helm. “I think the BIG EAST is deserving of at least two, if not three teams, when you consider how well West Virginia has played this season. There is a lot of parity in this league and the competition is very strong. You can’t just throw your glove out there and expect to win in this league – each game is a battle.”
After earning multiple bids in 1999, 2000 and 2001, the BIG EAST was represented
solely by Notre Dame in 2002 and the Irish responded by advancing to the College
World Series. Rutgers, which did not receive a bid, posted a 35-22 record,
defeated the Irish twice last season and fell to them, 3-2, in 10 innings in
the tournament final.