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Bearcats headed to Oklahoma for NCAA Regionals

VESTAL, N.Y. - Binghamton baseball is headed to Stillwater, Okla. for the NCAA Regionals. The two-time reigning America East champion Bearcats (25-25) learned their placement in the bracket as the team gathered Sunday in the Events Center to watch the NCAA Selection Show, televised live on ESPNU. Binghamton will open against 10th-ranked and host Oklahoma State (45-16) in the four-team regional, which begins on Friday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. Second-seeded Cal State Fullerton (32-22) and third-seeded Nebraska (40-19) are the other two teams at the regional and will square off in the opening game at 1 p.m. (ET). Binghamton then faces Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. (ET) and will be shown on ESPN3.  The double-elimination format continues on Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s a loaded regional and will be a great for challenge for us,” 22nd-year head coach Tim Sinicki said. “These teams all have rich baseball traditions and they play at a very high level. We won’t try to be anything more than who we are and I expect we will continue to play good fundamental baseball. Win or lose, we have a confident group of guys who will compete hard.”

In the latest Collegiate Baseball rankings, Oklahoma State was No. 10, Cal State Fullerton was No. 22 and Nebraska was No. 24.

The Cowboys were the Big 12 Conference regular season champions. OSU’s 45 wins are its most since 1999, which also marks the last time the Pokes appeared in the College World Series. OSU is making its 40th NCAA Tournament appearance, a total that ranks fourth all time, and the Cowboys own an all-time NCAA tourney record of 136-85 (.615), with the 136 wins ranking seventh in NCAA history. On Sunday, the Cowboys’ run at the Big 12 Baseball Championship fell short of a title as the top-seeded Cowboys dropped a 7-1 contest to second-seeded TCU in the championship game. The Cowboys are 33-11 all time in Regional play on their current home field and have won six Regional titles, the last coming in 1993.

Nebraska earned an at-large invitation after posting the most wins by a Husker program since 2008. The Huskies have played some of the best baseball across the country over the past two months, posting a 25-6 record over their past 31 games after starting the season 15-13. They will be making their 13 appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their ninth since 2000. Nebraska made five straight trips to the NCAA Tournament from 1999 to 2003. The Huskers made back-to-back appearances at the College World Series in 2001 and 2002, before returning to the championship event in 2005.

Cal State Fullerton ended the year fourth in the Big West Conference standings, and was in jeopardy of missing the postseason before ending the regular season on a seven-game winning streak, the team’s longest of the year. The team won 10 of its last 12 games, outscoring opponents 67-21 during that stretch. Fullerton has made 36 NCAA appearances in its 40 years at the Division I level, and the current string of 23 consecutive appearances is third longest in the nation behind Miami (42) and Florida State (37). The Titans boast a record of 144-76 in the postseason, including a record of 94-39 in Regional action.

On Sunday, BU earned the program’s second-straight NCAA berth and third in the last six years with a memorable 8-7 win in 12 innings over top-seeded Stony Brook in the America East title game. The Bearcats were four outs from elimination before rallying to force extra innings and then BU won it when freshman Eddie Posavec hit a bases-loaded RBI single with one out in the bottom of the 12th.

Posavec’s hit ended the longest title game in the 25-year baseball history of the America East. The win capped a gutsy showing by an injury-depleted BU team that became just the second team in conference history to win four straight elimination games and the first to do so by knocking off the tournament top seed in back-to-back games. After dropping its opener to No. 2 seed Hartford, the No. 3 Bearcats rattled off elimination-game wins over No. 4 Maine (6-3) and Hartford (8-0) before edging Stony Brook twice with late-inning heroics. Binghamton forced a winner-take-all game with a 4-3 win Saturday night and then exploded for a season-high 21 hits in Sunday’s final.

The Bearcats are 1-4 all-time in the NCAA tournament. Binghamton made its NCAA Division I tournament debut in 2009 and went 1-2 at the Greenville Regional. There, fourth-seeded BU lost to 17th-ranked and host East Carolina 11-7 in the opener before eliminating a George Mason team that was “receiving votes” in the national poll, 11-6, for the team’s historic first NCAA postseason win. The Bearcats then lost a second time to the host Pirates 16-9.

In 2013, BU played in the NCAA Raleigh Regional, losing to College World Series participant NC State (4-1) and 23rd-ranked Ole Miss (8-4) in pair of tight games. The Bearcats collected 18 hits and BU pitchers compiled 16 strikeouts in the two NCAA games.

Each of the 16 regionals features four teams, playing a double-elimination format. The regionals are scheduled to be conducted from May 30 to June 2 (if necessary). The 68th Men’s College World Series begins play June 14, at the TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska. There are 31 Division I conferences which received an automatic berth in the field of 64, along with 33 at-large selections.

NCAA Stillwater Regional (Stillwater, Okla.) Schedule

Friday, May 30
#2 Nebraska vs. #3 Cal State Fullerton (1 p.m.) (ET)
#1 Oklahoma State vs. #4 Binghamton (7 p.m.) (ET)

Saturday, May 31
TBA

Sunday, June 1
TBA

Monday, June 2
TBA*

*if necessary

(Courtesy: BU Athletics)

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