May 29, 2010

By Harold Gutmann
Special to NCAA.com

CARY, N.C. -- UC San Diego coach Dan O'Brien and Tampa coach Joe Urso agree it's time to change the format of the NCAA Division II Baseball Championships.

"I would love to see this tournament seeded," said O'Brien, the NCBWA Coach of the Year. "I think you have a lot of people working very hard to get here. To put just a random rotation together, I think it's time for a change."

The seeding issue was raised this year because of the way the eight regional champions were randomly slotted into the bracket. The top four teams -- No. 1 UCSD, No. 2 Tampa, No. 3 Central Missouri and No. 4 Georgia College -- were all in the top half.

That meant that only two of the top four could advance to the semifinals, while one team would be the first program eliminated. Five-time national champion Tampa ended up going home first after losing to Central Missouri and Georgia College, while the Bobcats had to play the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 teams in their first three games to reach the semifinals.

No. 9 Southern Indiana and No. 13 Franklin Pierce advanced through the bottom half of the draw.

"They seed for a regional tournament, and I see no reason why they couldn't use the same formula," Urso said. "It's literally a push of the button, and it shows you who should go where. I think it's a tremendous idea."

Central Missouri coach Tom Myers and Georgia College coach Tom Carty were less committed to seeding the tournament.

"That's not up to me," Myers said. "You want to play the best, and you compete your tails off and try to win it no matter who you're playing."

Said Carty: "At the end of the day, we're going to play the No. 1 team in the country, and if we win, we're sitting pretty. At some point you have to play people here. Whether it's the first two days or the last two days, it doesn't make a difference at this point."

Urso refused to use the tough schedule as an excuse for his team's early exit. The Spartans scored once in two games.

"If we were in the other bracket and we played like we did as far as executing, the results are probably the same," Urso said.

MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER: Southern Indiana's Taylor Dennis, the only pitcher to record two wins at the national finals, was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. He allowed two earned runs in 14 innings en route to wins over Georgia College in the semifinals and Minnesota State in the first round. Those efforts were even more important considering he was the only one of the Screaming Eagles' top three starters who wasn't suspended for the first four games of the tournament.

DEFENSIVE BATTLES: This was the first time since 1973 that no team scored 10 runs in a game. The closest was Georgia College, which beat Central Missouri 9-4 in a losers bracket game. It was also the lowest-scoring tournament since 1975, and the 6.79 runs per game was second-lowest average in tournament history. There were the same number of complete games as home runs (seven) in the 14 games at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.

NEW BLOOD: This was the third year in a row that both finalists were making their first appearances in the championship game. Mount Olive captured its first title against Ouachita Baptist in 2008, and Lynn beat Emporia State last year. Southern Indiana was the also the first champion not from the South or Southeast Regions since 2001. Southeast representative Georgia College lost in the semifinal to Southern Indiana, while South Region champion Tampa went 0-2.

BACK TO CARY: The 2011 championship tournament will be played at the USA Baseball National Training Complex next year for the third straight time. This year's championship game drew 1,107 fans, while last year's final attracted 734.