May 16, 2010

Sara Weber, NCAA.com

How the West Was Won
Top-seeded UC San Diego (UCSD) secured their second consecutive NCAA Division II West Region Championship title on Saturday, May 15, by beating fourth-seeded Hawaii Pacific, 9-4. Guido Knudson threw a complete game, scattered seven hits and fanned five batters. Hawaii Pacific, losers on the first day to UCSD, 12-0, battled through the loser's bracket for another shot at UCSD. UCSD slammed the door on Hawaii Pacific's uprising; thus, ending their tourney run. Tritons first- baseman Brandon Gregorich and catcher Kellen Lee each went 2-for-5 with a double, plus Lee smacked his eighth homerun of the season.

How the Southeast Was Just Won
Just complete in Florence, SC, third-seeded Georgia College (GCSU), undefeated all weekend, just took care of top-seed Francis-Marion, 9-0. GCSU catcher Richard Pirkle went 2-for-4 with five RBI and pitcher Martin Dewald threw a complete game shutout, scattering six hits while striking out eight. GCSU dispatched two former national champions and took down the two top-seeded teams in that region.


How the Atlantic May be Won
Host and top-seeded Kutztown needed to come up through the loser's bracket to make it to championship Sunday. Second-seeded West Chester, a 2009 National Championship Series participant, remained undefeated in the Atlantic region tournament. Kutztown will have to beat them twice today, Sunday, to claim the crown. They are halfway there. Kutztown just defeated West Chester, 14-5, and will play again for the region title at 4:30 PM ET.

How the South Central was Delayed by Rain Twice
Rain in Missouri has delayed the games on Saturday and Sunday. The region champion will not be decided until Tuesday, May 18. Top-seeded Central Missouri, the 1994 and 2003 National Champions, remains undefeated as does fourth-seeded Incarnate Word. They will meet in the first game on Monday, May 17 followed by an elimination game between fifth-seeded St. Mary's, the 2001 National Champion, and second-seeded Abilene Christian. The winner of the first game will play the loser of the second game.

The Wicked East
Heading into championship Sunday, second-seeded Franklin Pierce needed to fight their way back through the loser's bracket for a shot a top-seed Southern Connecticut State. Franklin Pierce needs to beat SCSU twice to claim the crown. As of this writing, Franklin Pierce has won the first game, 2-1, and has forced a second and deciding game for the East region title.

In the Middle of it all, the Central
Sixth-seeded St. Cloud State took down all the top seeds down except for second-seeded Minnesota State, whom they lost to yesterday. Undefeated Minnesota State plays upstart St. Cloud State today for the region crown. St. Cloud State will have to defeat MSU twice to claim the title. As of this writing, St. Cloud State was winning the first game, 8-5, in the top of the seventh; trying to force a second and decisive championship game.

The Wild Midwest
This region brings another scenario where a team needs to win twice to claim the crown. Top-seeded Southern Indiana, who lost to second-seeded Grand Valley State yesterday, 6-3, will need to defeat Grand Valley twice today for that region's crown. Grand Valley State swept through the weekend undefeated. Southern Indian has just won the first game, 7-3, and now the two teams will play for the title at 3:40 PM CT.

And in the Mighty South
Second-seeded Tampa has breezed through the weekend dispatching third-seeded Valdosta State, 17-7 on Friday, and top-seeded Southern Arkansas last night by a score of 20-5. Tampa first-baseman/leftfielder Jared Simon was a perfect 3-for-3 with 5 RBI and four runs scored including two monster homeruns. Tampa sits in the driver's seat for Monday's championship as it waits for the next opponent. Fifth-seeded Rollins, who knocked off fellow SSC school and fourth-seeded Florida Southern 6-0, will play top-seeded SAU for the right to play Tampa in Monday's champ game. That game will begin between 4-4:30 PM ET.
Whoever plays Tampa on Monday will have to defeat them twice.

RANDOM QUOTES AND NOTES

SOUTH TALES
Heard around the South region:
Quote from SAU Head Coach Allen Gum after his team beat fourth-seeded Florida Southern Friday night, 7-0:

"Take one year at a time (about facing Southern again this year after they eliminated the Muleriders last year). Had a plan to come at them and throw Hayden in game two. Very proud of the way the guys came out and got to Florida Southern."

On facing second-seeded Tampa:
Tampa is an outstanding team. It's gonna be a great ballgame. They have pitching and defense. It is gonna be a couple of heavyweights going at it.

Heard from Tampa Head Coach Joe Urso after Tampa beat SAU 20-5 Saturday night to advance to Monday's region championship:
"Big credit to our offense. Thought it would be a big pitcher's dual as it was when we played them earlier in the season. Happy to have the day off on Sunday and our bullpen is still pretty fresh and ready to go. Hope we can keep our hitters on a hot streak and finish this thing off. Monday is gonna be a great fight. It's far from over. Can't be happier with my guys. The errors have been minimal. We still have fresh arms and a good bullpen.

SAU defeated Florida Southern late Friday night, 7-0, to move into the semi-final matchup with No. 2 Tampa Saturday at 7 PM ET. The Muleriders got a complete shutout from GSC Pitcher of the Year Hayden Simpson, a candidate for National Pitcher of the Year. This was Simpson's seventh shutout and breaks a GSC record. He also threw eleven strikeouts and allowed only four hits from the Moccasins, on the way to victory number 13. He now improves to 13-1.
We caught up with Hayden after his incredible game.
Q: How do you feel about facing Tampa and having to play the regional in Tampa?

A: When it comes down to it, you can't win the national championship in Magnolia. You have to play elsewhere to win the title. We all got together and decided we wouldn't let it get us down (not playing at home) and we came down here and it is a beautiful place. The weather is great

Q: How do you feel now after playing two games?

A: Team morale is high. We are feeling good. Try to keep everything going and stay on a roll.

Q: Do you go through a process when you are on the mound?

A: There is a process that you go through in your mind. I try to take one pitch at a time. Most of the time, pitching is more mental. I go out there and feel very confident that there is a great team behind me. We are going to score runs and they make it pretty easy, when they do score often.

 

ATLANTIC TALES AND QUOTES
Heard at the Atlantic Region:
Quote from West Chester pitcher Dave Stieg, who with his team eliminated Cal (Pa.),7-2, on Saturday and will play in the region champ game against top-seed Kutztown. They only have to win once to win the crown.

Q: What does it mean to you to pitch the team back to the championship game and have the chance for a trip back to the College World Series?
A: I was just trying to do my best to get the team back there. I know they were going to hit the ball and I was just trying to keep the runs down.
Q: You pitched deep into the game to save the bullpen, how important is that for the team?
A: It's good to save the pen for the championship game. Pitching is the key, especially for the championship game. We are going to hit tomorrow and have the arms to go too.


SOUTHEAST QUOTES
Heard at the Southeast region after third-seeded GCSU defeated second-seeded Columbus State:
Quote from head coach Tom Carty
"When you build a team defensively, you want to be strong up the middle. (Shortstop) Chandler (Snell) has been a four-year starter, and he really raises his game up in big situations. (Second baseman) Jason (Veyna) has been a great compliment at second; then Sean (Harrell) robs a homerun in center and it just all comes together."

Q & A with the Head Coach of the No. 2 University of Tampa Spartans
(This was done prior to the start of regional play)
Q: Speak about your team's chemistry.

A: A high energy group. More energy than any other team we have coached. The have been outstanding all year for us. All our pitchers have done great every week. Josh Bowman, jon weidenbauer, AJ Pinera. Shawn Bierman will be big for us in the regional.

Q: Is it a disadvantage that the SSC (Sunshine State Conference) doesn't have a conference tournament?

A: No, our pitchers will be more rested going into the regional. Offensively, it helps hitters. Overall, I like it the way it is, not having one for us. The unfortunate part is that our off weekend during conference play was the last week - so we have been off for a long time. I am not a fan of the conference tournament.

Q: How do you feel about the region breakdown and how Southern Arkansas and Valdosta State played in the GSC ( Gulf South Tournament)?

A: Not surprised it came down to the last game with them.

Q: How do you feel about the national polls?

A: The national polls are nice, but that does not get you into the (NCAA) regional; the regional polls do. What's more important is those regional polls. The goal every year is to be no. 1in the region. It is our goal to host and be No. 1.

Q: What will be the main focus of your team heading into the NCAA Regional?

A: Starting pitching. They need to go deep in the ballgame. Our offense has been real good and can score runs late in the game. Our offense has been able to separate themselves and if we can get five good innings or more out of our starters, the offense can take over in the middle innings as well.

Q: Looking ahead to the tournament; how do you feel about a potential meeting with top seed Southern Arkansas again?

A: They are in a whole different bracket than us. We have to concentrate on our first game. We play a left-handed pitcher out of Florida Tech that can be pitcher of the year.

Q: Your best player is Mike Schwartz?

A: He has the opportunity to break a lot of records. He is our strongest player right now. We have a team with lots of energy and quirkiness.

AFTER TAMPA DEFEATED FLORIDA TECH AND VALDOSTA STATE

We caught up with Coach Urso after his first two wins and asked about their matchup with top seed Southern Arkansas or fourth-seeded Florida Southern.

"It's gonna be a really good ballgame. You got a rival in Florida Southern and you got Southern Arkansas, who have had our number. It's gonna be a good matchup either way."

On the first two games....
"Proud of our starters, Josh Bowman going eight innings and Shawn Bierman going five innings against Valdosta. We needed to get a good head start against Valdosta, since they have played good against us in the past. Offense had us in a good position.

Do you like playing better at night or does it matter?

"I like the night games because of the crowds and it is cooler. It's going to be a very exciting semi-final round."