My first 2014 College/College World Series post. Lets take a quick look at conferences with DC/MD/VA collegiate of interest and see how things went for them in their conference tourneys.
College Baseball Resources: BaseballAmerica, and their top-25 lists. d1baseball.com is fantastic and is the best place to get updated information on day-to-day data, standings, and tournament results. PerfectGame.org has the best data on college players in their vast prep database. Warrenolan.com has the best guesses on college baseball RPIs.
ACC (local interests: UVA and Maryland)
We’ll start with the strongest local baseball conference and with two significant local teams of note. The ACC has three teams listed in the top 7 of the latest Baseball America top 25 poll (UVA, Miami and Florida State) with the highest of them (UVA) being the lowest seeded of the three in the ACC tournament.
ACC Regular Season champs: Florida State and Miami, with Miami getting the #1 conference seed by virtue of a better in-conference record. UVA and Maryland were 2nd in their respective divisions but got the #3 and #6 seeds thanks to a bunching of ACC teams with nearly identical .500 records in-conference.
The big story in the ACC this year was NC State’s underperformance given its two first round talents (Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner). Rodon went just 6-7 on the season (with a 2.01 ERA and 117 Ks in 98 2/3 innings) and fell from the conesensus 1-1 draft slot that he was presumed to have ever since last year’s Rule-4 draft. Controversy also followed Rodon and the NC State coaching staff after a couple of questionable high pitch-count outings were lambasted in the national media. Turner had a solid year (.321/.418/.516 with 8 homers and 26/30 stolen bases) though and seems to continue to be a solid mid-late first rounder.
In the conference tournament, Maryland got an upset win over UVA in pool play on 5/22/14 behind ace Jake Stinnett‘s 8 inning, 10k performance. UVA threw mid-week starter Artie Lewicki, saving their bigger arms for the rest of pool-play presumably. However it wouldn’t matter; Maryland’s second pool win over Florida State combined with UVA’s victory meant that Maryland was automatically in the ACC tournament final. There they meet Georgia Tech on 5/25/14. UVA can save its arms for the regional tournament, where they’re extremely likely to be a national seed and regional/super regional host.
Conference tournament champion and NCAA automatic qualifier Georgia Tech, who beat Maryland (the two pool winners) 9-4 on 5/25/14. Maryland should have a strong enough resume to get an at-large bid (they’re 25th in Warren Nolan’s RPI) while Georgia Tech may have just stolen an at-large bid from someone.
Atlantic-10 (Local interests George Mason, George Washington, Richmond and VCU)
A-10 Regular season champs: St. Louis. GMU finished 4th in league play, VCU and Richmond were 5th and 6th. George Washington finished 8th out of 12 teams in the A-10 and did not qualify for the post-season tournament (which oddly only invited 7 teams … a strange number).
In the conference tournament, Mason got two quick wins to sit in the championship game of the winner’s bracket, where they met VCU (who had upset #1 seed St. Louis). Mason got the victory over state-rivals VCU in the winners’ bracket final, putting them in the driver seat for the automatic CWS spot. VCU got a second victory over St. Louis in the loser’s bracket final and must beat Mason back to back on 5/24/14 to take the tournament.
Conference tournament champion and NCAA automatic qualifier: George Mason, who beat VCU 4-3 on 5/24/14. First CWS appearance for Mason since 2009 and their first conference baseball title since 1992. Wow; more than 20 years.
Big South (Local interests: VA schools Liberty, VMI, Radford, and Longwood)
Big South Regular Season champs: Liberty, a surprising small school who blitzed the conference en route to a 40-15 regular season record and frequent mention in top 25 rankings of Baseball America and other collegiate polls. VMI and Longwood did not qualify for the post-season tournament.
In the conference tournament, Liberty suffered an early loss and faced Radford in an elimination game but put themselves in a position to advance to the tourney final by eliminating Radford on 5/23. Winthrop ended Liberty’s quest in the bracket finals, leaving Liberty to hold their breaths on acquiring an at-large bid (they should be OK: #28 in the latest Warren Nolan RPI estimates).
Conference tournament champion and NCAA automatic qualifier: Campbell, who beat Winthrop on 5/25/14.
Colonial Athletic Association (local interests: JMU, William & Mary and Towson)
Colonial Regular Season champs: William & Mary, outlasting perennial baseball power College of Charleston by a half game (by virtue of playing one less game in-conference). JMU had a very down year, finishing just 17-36 while Towson (who was scheduled for baseball extinction) continues to struggle thanks to their coach releasing all their players thanks to program instability. Neither Towson nor Hofstra was invited to the post-season tournament (for unknown reasons both; the CAA has a penchant for dis-inviting teams that announce they’re leaving the conference).
In the conference tournament, JMU was two-and-out quickly as the tournament played to its seeds early. The Washington Post had a great feature on College of Charleston starter (ex-Towson and Broad Run alumni) Taylor Clark, who turned into their ace this year and got the playoff-win for Charleston on 5/22/14. William & Mary advanced out of the loser’s bracket and has to sweep a double-header on 5/24/14 to win the conference tournament.
Conference tournament champion and NCAA automatic qualifier: College of Charleston, who beat William & Mary on 5/24/14. Local kid Clark gets a shot at a CWS regional.
Conference USA: Local team Old Dominion
I honestly forgot that Old Dominion had moved to this conference until seeing them in the field of 64.
Regular season champ: Rice. ODU was 4th.
In the conference tournament, ODU got a win over Rice, but Rice fought back to take the conference tournament.
MEAC: (Local teams UMES and Norfolk State): UMES had a down year and missed the post-season tournament. Norfolk State lost in the final of the conference tournament to MEAC baseball power and frequent CWS participant Bethune-Cookman.
Patriot: Navy beaten by eventual conference champ Bucknell.
The College World Series field of 64 will be announced just after the Memorial day weekend, upon the completion of all the college tournaments. Analysis to follow.