Eagles Fly West to Cal State Fullerton
STATESBORO, Ga. Georgia Southern Baseball’s first trip back to the NCAA Regionals in seven years has the Eagles taking flight. Earning the number two seed in the bracket, Georgia Southern will travel to Cal State Fullerton and face third-seed (No. 19 ranked/Baseball America) Gonzaga University in the opening round game.
Georgia Southern (ranked 29th this week by the NCBWA) will face #19 Gonzaga at 6 p.m. Eastern (3 p.m. Pacific) CSF, the overall second-seed in the 64-team field, will face fourth-seed Utah in the other opening round game on Friday (May 29) at 10 Eastern.
Saturday, May 30 - Game 3: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2, 2 p.m. PT.
Game 4: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 6 p.m. PT.
Sunday, May 31 - Game 5: Winner of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4, 2 p.m. PT. Game 6: Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 4, 6 p.m. PT
Monday, June 1 - Game 7: Repeat of Game 6 (If Necessary), 6 p.m. PT.
Live stats will be available through the Cal State Fullerton website, www.FullertonTitans.com.
The Eagles have won seven straight and 10 of their last 11, bringing a 42-15 record into the Regionals. The 42 wins match the 2001 team’s total in their 42-20 season, good for sixth-most in program history. The Eagles are now 4-2 this year against nationally-ranked teams.
This marks the Eagles’ first-ever game against all three Fullerton Regional teams. The Eagles, along with members of the media and guests, got together at Bishop Field House to watch the announcement show on ESPN. Head coach Rodney Hennon, along with numerous others, were surprised but excited about the announcement.
“No, I don’t think we expected to go that far. Typically, in years past, they have kind of regionalized the brackets, but I think what it shows is that they rewarded us, they felt like we were deserving of a two seed,” said the 10th-year head coach. “I think it is exciting to play someone different and also to go somewhere different. So I think our kids are definitely excited about the opportunity to travel west. The only disappointing thing is that we have had such great support from our fans all year, I know it will be more of a challenge for a lot of our fans to get out there. But no question, I think our kids are excited about the opportunity.”
Georgia Southern earned the Southern Conference’s automatic bid after sweeping through the tournament field: defeating Davidson 4-3 in 11 innings, Appalachian State 6-5, Furman 16-4 and Elon 7-3.
Playing three unfamiliar foes does not bother Hennon either.
“We are not as familiar with those teams as maybe some others in our region, but we’ll try and find out as much information as possible in the next couple of days and get prepared. I think it is a great opportunity for us and I think that is a good point, and most people are familiar with our program in our region, but the opportunity to go to a different part of the country and hopefully go out and play well, certainly, I think that will not only help our program, but also the Southern Conference.”
Chris Mederos (Valdosta/Gordon College) and Griffin Benedict (Dunwoody/St. Pius) earned First Team All-SoCon honors while Mederos was joined by Ty Wright (Montrose/ABAC) and Kyle Blackburn (Marietta/Walton) on the All-Tournament Team. In fact, six of Blackburn’s seven hits were extra-bases as he was named the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Gonzaga (35-16) earned the West Coast Conference’s automatic bid after defeating Loyola Marymount twice in the best-of-three series at home. The Bulldogs are 9-6 in away games and 7-4 in neutral sites. Matt Fields (8-1, 2.86 ERA) has struck out 73 batters in 88 innings. Tyson Van Winkle leads the hitting at a .361 clip with 24 doubles and 54 RBI. Making its first NCAA appearance since 1981, GU owns a .297 team batting average, .970 fielding percentage and 4.21 ERA.
Cal State Fullerton (42-14) is making its 18th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Regionals. The Titans (ranked fourth in this week’s polls) are the nation’s number two seed, and one of three teams representing the Big West Conference. CSF owns a .317 team batting average, stolen 104-of-145 bases, .977 fielding percentage and 3.50 ERA. Josh Fellhauer leads the hitting at a .391 clip with 51 RBI. Christian Colon is next hitting .347 with 15 doubles. Daniel Renken (9-2, 2.50 ERA) and Tyler Pill (10-3, 4.10) lead the pitching staff. CSF has a 20-8 record at home.
Utah is the only program in the 64-team field with a losing record. The Utes (26-29) captured the Mountain West Conference’s automatic bid by winning the tournament. Utah is 19-16 on the road this year, led by Nick Kuroczko’s .351 batting average and eight triples. Three Utah pitchers have five wins apiece. Overall, Utah is batting .299 with a .965 fielding percentage and 5.81 ERA. This is Utah’s first appearance in the NCAAs since 1960.
- Category: Baseball
- Published on Wednesday, 27 May 2009 09:36