Nationally top-ranked Mount Olive has earned the No. 1 seed and will play host to the South Atlantic Regional of the 2008 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship, it was announced late Sunday night. The six-team double-elimination regional will take place Thursday through Sunday at Scarborough Field. The Trojans open play Thursday at 7 p.m. against No. 6 seed Erskine.
The winner of the South Atlantic Regional joins the other seven regional champions at the national finals May 24-31 at Sauget, Ill.
Thursday’s first round gets underway at 11 a.m. as No. 3 seed USC Aiken takes on No. 4 seed North Georgia, followed by No. 2 seed Columbus State vs. No. 5 seed Belmont Abbey. Three games are scheduled Friday and Saturday at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. The championship game is slated for Sunday at 1 p.m. If a second championship game is necessary, that will be played at 5 p.m.
Mount Olive (49-5) clinched an automatic bid in April after winning the Conference Carolinas Tournament for the third year in a row. The Trojans are making their third consecutive appearance in the NCAA II Baseball Championship and their eight appearance overall. Mount Olive was runner-up in last year’s regional.
The Trojans are hosting the regional for the second consecutive year, but this year’s tournament marks the first time in school history an NCAA Championship is being held on the Mount Olive College campus. The 2007 regional took place at Grainger Stadium in Kinston.
The region’s other automatic bid went to nationally 14th-ranked North Georgia (41-19), which posted a perfect 4-0 record and captured a tournament championship in its first-ever appearance in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament. The Saints are making their NCAA II Baseball Championship debut.
The four at-large bids were split equally between Conference Carolinas and the Peach Belt Conference. Nationally 28th-ranked Belmont Abbey (40-20) is making its second tournament appearance and first since 2001. The Crusaders were Conference Carolinas Tournament runners-up. No. 29 Erskine (44-11) is making its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The Flying Fleet finished second in the Conference Carolinas regular season standings. This year marks the first time more than one Conference Carolinas team has advanced to the regional.
Nationally eighth-ranked Columbus State (41-17) aims for its second consecutive South Atlantic Regional title. The Cougars, who are making their 14th tournament appearance, won the national championship in 2002 and were national runners-up last year. Tenth-ranked USC Aiken (44-15) earned a bid to the NCAA Championship for the sixth tine in school history. The Pacers are in the South Atlantic Regional for the fourth consecutive year.
All six participants in this year’s South Atlantic Regional are currently ranked in at least one national poll.
Mount Olive was ranked No. 1 in the South Atlantic Region Poll throughout the regular season. The Trojans made five consecutive trips to the South Atlantic Regional from 1996-2000 and are seeking their first trip to the national finals.
Mount Olive enters the NCAA II Baseball Championship ranked No. 1 in the Collegiate Baseball Top 30 for the 11th time in 12 weeks. The Trojans hope to make it three years in a row that the top-ranked team has won the national championship. Two-time defending national champion Tampa was ranked No. 1 in the final regular season poll in each of the last two years.
Tickets are $10 per day for adults and $5 per day for students with ID. Four-day all-session passes are available for $35 for adults and $15 for students.
Below is the schedule for the 2008 NCAA II South Atlantic Regional:
Thursday, May 15, 2008*
11 a.m. Game 3: No. 3 USC Aiken vs. No. 4 North Georgia
3 p.m. Game 2: No. 2 Columbus State vs. No. 5 Belmont Abbey
7 p.m. Game 1: No. 1 Mount Olive vs. No. 6 Erskine
*Game times adjusted to allow regional host to play in 7 p.m. game
Friday, May 16, 2008
11 a.m. Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
3 p.m. Game 5: Winner Game 1 vs. Loser Game 3
7 p.m. Game 6: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3
Saturday, May 17, 2008*
11 a.m. Game 7: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6
3 p.m. Game 8: Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 6
7 p.m. Game 9: Loser Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8
*Pairings will be adjusted if five teams remain after Game 6
Sunday, May 18, 2008*
1 p.m. Game 10: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9
5 p.m. Game 11: If necessary (same teams as Game 10)
*Pairings will be adjusted if three teams remain after Game 9