PISCATAWAY, NJ – One year after sitting through an agonizing 30 minutes without an invitation, it took just nine minutes for the Rutgers Baseball team to see its name on locker room television inside the Louis Brown Athletic Center during the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship selection show. The BIG EAST Regular Season Champion-Scarlet Knights (36-20) are seeded third and headed to Tallahassee, FL for the NCAA Division I Baseball Regional at Florida State. Rutgers will face second-seeded South Alabama (40-17) on Friday.
Rutgers is back in the tournament after a one-year hiatus, making its fifth trip in the last six years under head coach Fred Hill. RU appeared in four-straight tournaments from 1998 through 2001, beginning the streak, ironically, with a trip to Florida State in 1998. In that regional, RU beat Auburn, 17-15, before falling to Oklahoma (9-7) and Auburn (7-4). That regional was the last time the six-team format was used.
In Rutgers’ last tournament appearance, the Scarlet Knights advanced to the final, falling to top-seeded Nebraska, 14-10, in 2001.
“We are thrilled to have our season extended,” said head coach Fred Hill. “These kids battled all season long and did a great job coming back in the conference tournament. We have a lot of young guys who will be making their first appearance (in a regional), but we will be ready.”
“After last season’s disappointment, no one wanted to say that we were in for sure,” said senior first baseman Steve Normane. “We all thought we deserved a bid and we are happy the committee agreed with us this year.”
The regional features the No. 1-ranked Seminoles, who earned the No. 1 seed in the entire tournament. Florida State is 50-10-1 this season and has won the ACC regular season and tournament championship. Second-seeded South Alabama (40-17), a member of the Sun Belt Conference, won the regular season title but lost to Florida International in the conference tournament. Fourth-seeded Jacksonville (33-28) captured the Atlantic Sun Conference championship with a 7-1 victory over Stetson in the title game. They were the sixth, and final, seed in the conference tournament, but won for the first time since 1999.
Further details on the tournament will be made available soon.
NCAA Regional at Tallahassee, FL
No. 4 Jacksonville (32-28) vs. No. 1 Florida State (50-10-1)
No. 3 Rutgers (36-20) vs. No. 2 South Alabama (40-17)