May 28, 2012
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By Eric DeSalvo and Brian Ormiston
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The road to Omaha continues for the UCF baseball team as it earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will travel to Coral Gables, Fla., to take on No. 3 seed Missouri State Friday at 2 p.m. This is the 11th postseason appearance for the Knights and second straight under head coach Terry Rooney.
"Obviously we are very excited about the opportunity to participate in back-to-back years in a NCAA Regional," Rooney said. "The guys are excited and deservedly so. We've put ourselves in position this year to be rewarded with this opportunity."
Filling out the double-elimination Coral Gables Regional, No. 1 Miami hosts No. 4 Stony Brook on Friday at 7 p.m. The bracket is shaped up where the winner in Coral Gables will square off against the victor of the Baton Rouge Regional (No. 7 overall seed LSU, Oregon State, Belmont, Louisiana-Monroe) in a best-of-three Super Regional June 8-11 for the right to reach Omaha June 15-26.
"It's a great regional," Rooney added. "We obviously know about Miami having had the opportunity to play them and it's an outstanding program. Stony Brook is a four seed, but they are clearly one of the best in the entire bracket. And with Missouri State, just look at their record and the teams that they beat. The point being that it's an outstanding, competitive regional."
To order NCAA Regional tickets, call the University of Miami ticket office starting Tuesday at 305-284-2263. Ticket packages are $90 for field box, $60 for chairback, $45 for adult general admission and $30 for youth, seniors and students. Individual day passes will go one sale later this week.
UCF has received a small allotment of all tournament passes that are being sold to 2012 baseball season ticket holders and Golden Knights Club donors. All tournament passes are general admission and are priced at $45 each. Orders must be placed no later than 6 p.m. on Wednesday. All orders placed with UCF may be picked up at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field starting at noon on Friday.
As a No. 2 seed once again, UCF will be making back-to-back NCAA appearances for the first time since 2001-02. It also marks the first time it travels to Miami to participate in the NCAA Tournament. Last year, the Knights (43-15) were the second seed in the Tallahassee Regional.
UCF compiled an impressive resume over the course of three months, highlighted by a 17-4 record away from home. Beginning the 2012 campaign at No. 21 in the Baseball America rankings, the Knights never dipped below that ranking over the course of 58 games and finished second in Conference USA play with a program-best 16 wins.
UCF battled seven teams this year which will be advancing to the NCAA Tournament (Florida, Bethune-Cookman, Rice, Miami, East Carolina, Florida State and UAB), and collected a 9-9 record in those games.
Missouri State is set to make its eighth trip to the postseason, and first since 2003 when it advanced to the College World Series. The Bears stand at 39-20 and went 2-2 in the Missouri Valley Conference Championship after closing the regular season in second place. Holding a 5-6 record in its last 11 outings, MSU has been dominant on the mound with a 2.51 team ERA to rank second in the country. It is led by last year's MVC Freshman of the Year in righty Nick Petree, who has a 0.92 ERA with a 10-3 record and 109 strikeouts in 107.1 innings. Meanwhile, closer Tyler Burgess has 11 saves and a 1.63 ERA. At the plate, the Bears are hitting .278 and average 5.4 runs per game.
UCF is no stranger to Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field as it has won two of its last three games at Miami dating back to 2010. The two teams split a pair of midweek games in 2012 with the visitor coming out on top each time. The Hurricanes are 36-21 on the year with a 25-10 record at home, and went 2-1 in pool play in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament before falling to Georgia Tech in the title game. All-American Peter O'Brien is the player to watch for Miami as the catcher/first baseman is hitting a team-best .338.
The 2012 America East champions, Stony Brook (46-11) ranks second in the nation with 46 victories and has the top winning percentage in Division I at .807. The Seawolves have won 11-consecutive games as well as 22 of their last 23 to flirt with the national rankings and were recently at No. 30 in the NCBWA poll. Stony Brook has a .337 team batting average with Travis Jankowski (.411) and Maxx Tissenbaum (.400) each hitting at least .400, and the pitching staff claims a 2.87 ERA with opponents hitting just .240 against the arms.