Saturday, December 7, 2013
The University of Southern Maine drew the top seed in the NCAA Division III New England Baseball Regional, scheduled to begin Wednesday at Whitehouse Field in Harwich, Mass.
St. Joseph's College of Standish was seeded sixth of eight teams in the double-elimination tournament, one of eight regionals around the country that will send winners on to the national championship in Appleton, Wis.
"I think we've got a chance," said USM head coach Ed Flaherty, bidding to return to the national championship for the first time since 2001. "But there's a lot of teams in this tournament that have a good chance."
The Huskies (37-7) are scheduled to play No. 8 Daniel Webster (28-10) at 1 p.m. Wednesday. They did not meet in the regular season.
Flaherty tabbed junior Logan Carman (10-0, 2.03 ERA) as Wednesday's starting pitcher.
"We've got a good balance of offense, defense, pitching and baserunning," Flaherty said. "This team is fairly solid in all areas."
The Huskies are coming off their second straight Little East Conference title.
On Monday, senior Nick Grady, an Erskine Academy graduate, was named LEC player of the week after winning the Most Outstanding Player award in the conference tournament, during which he went 10-for-17 with eight RBIs in four games.
For the season, Grady is batting .441 with a team-leading 83 hits and 57 RBIs.
Gardiner graduate Forrest Chadwick is batting .366 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs for the Huskies.
The winner advances to a 4:30 game on Thursday afternoon; the loser plays an elimination game Thursday morning at 9:30.
St. Joseph's (30-12) is scheduled to play No. 3 Endicott (32-12) at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday. The winner will play again Thursday night at 8; the loser faces an elimination game Thursday afternoon at 1.
In their only meeting in late March, Endicott beat St. Joe's 4-2 in Beverly, Mass., for only the second time in seven meetings between the two schools.
"I like our chances," said Monks coach Will Sanborn, whose team has won four straight Great Northeast Athletic Conference titles.
"We've got a good, deep, strong pitching staff, so that usually bodes well for a tournament like this."
The winner will play again Thursday night at 8; the loser faces an elimination game Thursday afternoon at 1.
"If we can play solid defense and situationally hit, I think we've got a good shot (at winning the regional)," said Sanborn, whose team has won seven games in the regional tournament in the past three years.
In other opening-round games Wednesday in the New England regional, No. 4 Western New England (31-11) plays No. 5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (27-11) at 9:30 a.m. and No. 2 Wheaton (30-10) plays No. 7 Salem State (25-13) at 8 p.m.
Southern Maine is 5-1 this year against the rest of the field, with a Wheaton split the only blemish.
Thirty-eight teams in the field of 56 earned an automatic bid by winning their conference title. The national championship is scheduled for May 24-28 in Appleton's Fox Cities Stadium.