NCAA baseball: Previewing Chapel Hill, Raleigh regions
MAY 30, 2013 10:59p ET
In the Chapel Hill region, North Carolina (52-8, 21-7 ACC) is obviously the favorite as the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, but there are certainly some potential matchups that could give them trouble. Here's a quick look at the other teams in the region.
No. 2 Florida Atlantic (39-20, 19-11 Sun Belt)
The skinny: The Owls are a hot team, winners of 11 straight (including earning the automatic berth with a Sun Belt Tournament title). The last time FAU made a Regional was in 2010 and the Owls did win two games, including one against Oregon State.
Name to know: Austin Gomber. FAU will likely save Gomber (7-4, 2.97 ERA) until a potential Saturday game against UNC, since lefties have given the Tar Heels' predominantly left-handed lineup trouble.
Mascot: Owlsley the Owl. Some schools that use an owl mascot do so because they used to be night schools (like Temple). But in FAU’s case, the campus was home to a burrowing owl sanctuary when it was built and there are still a lot of them on campus to this day.
No. 3 Towson (29-28, 14-13 CAA)
The skinny: In March, Towson decided to do away with the baseball program after this year for budgetary reasons. Fortunately, the program survived and now they’re in their first Regional since 1991. Sounds like the plot of a feel-good sports movie.
Name to know: Kurt Wertz. Towson can hit a little bit, and Wertz is the best of the bunch with 13 home runs and 63 RBI.
Mascot: Doc the Tiger. Yawn. Way too many Tiger mascots in college. And this one was adopted in 1963, when the men’s soccer team decided they no longer liked the nickname “Golden Knights”. So they chose … a tiger. Grrrreat.
No. 4 Canisius (42-15, 15-9 MAAC)
The skinny: Canisius edged Siena in the MAAC Tournament last weekend, 12-11, scoffing at the notion that scoring is down in college baseball (the Griffs hit .317 on the season, 17th nationally). This is Canisius’ first NCAA appearance. The Golden Griffins are tied for 18th nationally in stolen bases with 106 (and they’ve only been caught stealing 26 times).
Name to know: Garrett Cortright. The right-handed pitcher led the MAAC in ERA (2.24) and is 11-3 on the season. He’ll get the start on Friday against No. 1 seed North Carolina, and he grew up a UNC fan.
Mascot: Golden Griffin. Okay, so basically, it looks like an eagle. But who cares? “Golden Griffin” sounds much better than “Eagle”, which is a mascot name chosen by far too many colleges. Technically, a griffin is a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. Which is pretty awesome.
No. 1 N.C. State (44-14, 20-10) will host a regional for the second straight year. The Wolfpack will have to quickly shake off the disappointment of not earning a national seed and take care of business this weekend. Here's a quick look at who else is playing in Raleigh.
No. 2 Ole Miss (37-22, 15-15 SEC)
The skinny: Ole Miss started 19-1 this year (the best start in school history) but, well, SEC play happened. Since March 22, the Rebels have lost five of eight SEC series. They have the talent to beat nearly anyone, but haven’t had the consistency.
Name to know: Bobby Wahl. He and N.C. State ace Carlos Rodon (a former teammate on Team USA) will likely match up on Saturday. Wahl, a righty, is 9-0 with a 1.99 ERA. In 15 starts, he’s left one game without a lead. Obviously, something will have to give there.
Mascot: Rebel Black Bear. This is a story new enough that most people already know it. Suffice it to say “Colonel Reb” was long overdue to be retired in 2003. He wasn’t replaced until 2010 -- sadly, he was not replaced by Admiral Ackbar. (Get it? Rebel leader?)
No. 3 William & Mary (37-22, 17-10 CAA)
The skinny: William & Mary got an at-large berth after losing to Towson (who is also in town for North Carolina’s Regional) in the CAA Tournament. It was the Tribe’s first at-large selection in program history.
Name to know: Michael Katz. The sophomore first baseman is hitting .365 with 47 RBI and te10 home runs.
Mascot: Griffin. William & Mary has been known as the Tribe, but … yeah, that whole American Indian thing. And so they replaced it with a Griffin. (If that sounds familiar, see “Canisius” and also this.) It’s been three years, and not only does the griffin have no name, it also has no pants.
No. 4 Binghamton (30-23, 17-14 America East)
The skinny: Binghamton won the automatic bid by taking home the America East Tournament crown. It’s the Bearcats’ first trip to the Tournament since 2009. Binghamton is young and has been hurt by injuries this season, but it is catching fire at the right time.
Name to know: Jake Thomas. The sophomore leftfielder is hitting .382 and is No 2 in the country in on-base percentage.
Mascot: Baxter the Bearcat. As per usual, the Binghamton mascot has been changed from a more offensive one (the Colonials). Baxter the Bearcat has been around since 1999. But before Binghamton was known as the Colonials, and they had a mascot called Harpo the Donkey.