May 25, 2009

Goin' to Carolina... for Clemson Regional

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Tech baseball team learned Monday that it will head to South Carolina for the NCAA Regional Tournament this week. Coach Matt Bragga's Golden Eagles (30-22-1), the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champion, will be the No. 4 seed in the four-team, double-elimination tournament which runs Friday through Monday. Tech will begin the tournament with a game against host and No. 1 seed Clemson at 6 p.m. CDT Friday. Oklahoma State and Alabama are the other teams in the Regional.

“Our guys have worked extremely hard,” Bragga said. “We’re excited to continue our season in the NCAA Regional Tournament in Clemson with three high-quality opponents. "

The tournament marks the fourth time in Tech history that the Golden Eagles have advanced to the NCAA Regional, going in 1956, ’97 and 2001. Tech is 2-6 all time in the NCAA Tournament, and won one regional game in each of its last two appearances, beating Ohio State in 1997, and Wake Forest in 2001.

The Golden Eagles are 2-4 this season against NCAA Tournament qualifiers. Tech split a two-game series against Georgia State in Cookeville, and took one game from Southern Miss in a three-game series to wrap up the regular season. Tech also lost to Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro in late February.

Tech earned a berth into the NCAA tournament by going a perfect 4-0 in the OVC tournament in Paducah, Ky. last week, capping off its tournament championship with a pair of 10-inning victories against Jacksonville State on Friday and Saturday to capture the crown.

“We’re looking forward to showing everybody what Tennessee Tech is all about,” sophomore A.J. Kirby-Jones said, the OVC tournament MVP.

The match-up between Tech and Clemson will be the teams’ third all-time meeting. Clemson took a two-game series against the Golden Eagles during the 2003 season.

Clemson is making its 34th NCAA Regional appearance, including its 22nd in the last 23 years. Clemson’s 34 regional appearances are sixth-most in NCAA history. One school on that list ahead of Clemson is Oklahoma State, who will be playing in its 37th all-time tournament, fourth-best in NCAA history. The Cowboys have been to the College World Series 19 times, tied for fifth-most in NCAA history. Clemson has been to the College World Series 11 times, 11th-best nationally.

This year’s Clemson team enters the NCAA Tournament with a 40-19 record. The Tigers have won 15 of their last 20 games and have eight wins over top-25 teams, including six against teams ranked in the top five in the nation.

Clemson has four players batting over .320 so far this year. Ben Paulsen, Clemson’s starting first-baseman, is the leader with a .368 batting average. He has 11 home runs and a team-best 55 RBIs to go with a team-best 16 doubles and a .611 slugging percentage. Wilson Boyd is hitting .348 and is coming off a game in which he hit a walk-off single off the left-field wall to give the Tigers a 4-3 win over the Tar Heels in the ACC Tournament.

Alabama enters the NCAA tournament with a 37-19 overall record and 18-11 SEC mark. The Crimson Tide's season includes a 2-1 series win over Georgia when the Bulldogs were ranked #1 in the nation, a 3-0 series sweep of SEC Tournament finalist Vanderbilt, and a sweep of NCAA Tournament team Arkansas.

Jim Wells’ team is hitting .331 and is led by Kent Matthes, a starting outfielder from Orlando, FL who is hitting .365 with 28 home runs and 81 RBIs. He was leading the nation in home runs entering the conference tournament weekend, a big reason Alabama was fourth in the nation in home runs.

Taylor Dugas is hitting .354 from his starting outfield position and Ross Wilson checks in at .349. Brandon May is hitting .343 with 12 home runs to serve as a key to the offense. The Alabama pitching staff is led by Austin Hyatt, a 6'3" righthander from Marietta, GA who has an 8-2 record and a 3.14 ERA.

Oklahoma State comes to Clemson for the first time in history with a 32-22 record, including a 9-16 mark in the Big 12 Conference. This is the fourth straight year Oklahoma State has been chosen for the NCAA Tournament.

Tryone Hambly leads the Cowboys at the plate with a .338 batting average and nine home runs. Neil Medchill is the top home run hitter (14) and is hitting .337. Michael Dabbs has 13 home runs and is hitting .335. Oklahoma State is hitting .304 as a team.

Tyler Blandford leads the team in wins (7), while Andrew Oliver tops the team with strikeouts with 91 in 80.2 innings pitched.

The Golden Eagle games in the tournament can be heard live on FREE Teamline via either the telephone or the Internet, with Nick Heidelberger and former Golden Eagle Ben Shannon calling the action. Log onto the Tech Teamline page by clicking here. To listen on the telephone, call 1-800-846-4700 and use the team code 0654.

Reserved seat all-tournament ticket books are available for $70 each. Single-game general admission tickets will be available at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on game days for $8 each. If available, single-game reserved seating will be sold for $12 each at the stadium on game day. To purchase tickets, or for more information, call the Clemson ticket office at 1-800-Clemson or (864) 656-2118.