NC State baseball: Hosting doesn't guarantee trip to Omaha

calexander@newsobserver.comMay 28, 2013 

  • Do seeds matter?

    They help, but they don’t guarantee a spot in Omaha, and they certainly don’t guarantee a ring. Seven of the past nine College World Series champions did not receive one of the top eight national seeds. Here’s a look at the top 8 since the format began in 1999.

    1999

    Reached Omaha: 7 of 8

    L Super Regional: No. 4 Baylor

    2000

    Reached Omaha: 4 of 8

    L SR: No. 1 South Carolina, No. 3 Georgia Tech, No. 5 Houston

    L Regional: No. 7 Arizona State

    2001

    Reached Omaha: 7 of 8

    L SR: No. 7 East Carolina

    2002

    Reached Omaha: 5 of 8

    L SR: No. 1 FSU

    L R: No. 3 Alabama, No. 7 Wake Forest

    2003

    Reached Omaha: 5 of 8

    L SR: No. 1 FSU

    L R: No. 3 Georgia Tech, No. 4 Auburn

    * 2004

    Reached Omaha: 4 of 8

    L SR: No. 4 Ga. Tech

    L R: No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 Rice, No. 7 Arizona State

    * Unseeded Cal St. Fullerton won national title

    * 2005

    Reached Omaha: 5 of 8

    L SR: No. 2 Georgia Tech, No. 5 Mississippi, No. 6 Cal St. Fullerton

    * Unseeded Texas won national title

    * 2006

    Reached Omaha: 5 of 8

    L SR: No. 4 Alabama

    L R: No. 3 Texas, No. 6 Nebraska

    * Unseeded Oregon State won national title

    * 2007

    Reached Omaha: 3 of 8

    L R: No. 1 Vanderbilt, No. 4 Texas, No. 6 Florida St., No. 7 Arkansas, No. 8 San Diego

    * Unseeded Oregon St. won national title

    * 2008

    Reached Omaha: 6 of 8

    L SR: No. 3 Arizona State, No. 5 Cal St. Fullerton

    * Unseeded Fresno St. won national title

    2009

    Reached Omaha: 5 of 8

    L SR: No. 8 Florida

    L R: No. 6 UC Irvine, No. 7 Oklahoma

    * 2010

    Reached Omaha: 3 of 8

    L SR: No. 2 Texas, No. 4 Coastal Carolina, No. 5 Virginia

    L R: No. 7 Louisville, No. 8 Georgia Tech

    * Unseeded South Carolina won national title

    2011

    Reached Omaha: 6 of 8

    L SR: No. 5 FSU

    L R: No. 8 Rice

    * 2012

    Reached Omaha: 4 of 8

    L SR: No. 4 Baylor, No. 5 Oregon, No. 7 LSU

    L R: No. 6 North Carolina

    * Unseeded Arizona won national title

— N.C. State's baseball players and coaches didn't hide their disappointment Monday when the Wolfpack wasn't among the top eight national seeds for the NCAA Championship.

The top eight seeds, if they win their NCAA regionals, automatically host Super Regionals the next week. That's perceived as a big advantage in being able to take the next step and advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. – very good teams, playing on their home fields.

But being among the top eight and making it to Omaha is anything but automatic. Neither is hosting a Super Regional.

A year ago, North Carolina was the sixth overall seed and was beaten by St. John's in the NCAA regional in Chapel Hill. Baylor (No. 4 seed), Oregon (5) and LSU (7) all lost Super Regionals.

Since 1999, when the Super Regional format was adopted by the NCAA, just 61.6 percent of the top eight seeds have made it to Omaha. In seven of the past nine years, an unseeded team has left Omaha with the national championship trophy.

Only one No. 1 seed has won it all – Miami, in 1999. Arizona, unseeded, was the champion last year.

"There is no sure thing," South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said Tuesday.

In 2010, Tanner was the Gamecocks coach when South Carolina won the College World Series as a non-seeded team. The Gamecocks played in the Super Regional hosted by Coastal Carolina, seeded fourth nationally that year, in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

"A big factor is the maturity and confidence of a team," Tanner said. "There are eight teams playing at home and eight playing on the road (in super regionals), but often it's the team with maturity and confidence that wins, and especially when up against a team that doesn't have a long history or tradition, that's trying to get there for the first time."

That was Coastal Carolina in 2010. Then again, Stony Brook went to LSU last season and stunned the Tigers in the Super Regional to get to Omaha, unfazed by the Tigers' rich tradition – LSU had won the national title in 2009 – or rabid fans.

South Carolina flawlessly defended its NCAA championship in more conventional fashion in 2011. The Gamecocks were the No. 4 seed, streaked through both the regional and Super Regional undefeated, then went 5-0 at the College World Series.

The Wolfpack was hoping to be a national seed for the first time. N.C. State (44-14) was seventh in the NCAA's RPI rankings and had an 18-10 record this season against teams ranked in the top 50 of the RPI. Conversely, Oregon, seeded eighth by the NCAA, was ninth in the RPI and finished 6-10 against RPI top-50 opponents.

Should the Pack and Ducks both win regionals, Oregon would host the Super Regional against N.C. State in Eugene, Ore. The games would be played at 4,000-seat PK Park, which opened in 2009, and involve cross-country travel for the Wolfpack.

All of that sounds good to the Pack.

"Once you get between the lines it's not like basketball or anything like that, where it's a huge factor," third baseman Grant Clyde said. "Once you're between the lines it's the same nine innings, the same 27 outs. You take care of what you can and hopefully it goes your way."

A year ago, the Pack hosted and won the regional at Doak Field, twice beating Vanderbilt, only to have Florida standing in the way. The Gators were the No. 1 national seed last season and won the Super Regional in two straight games at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.

The Gators then went 0-2 in Omaha while Arizona won. So much for being No. 1. That's N.C. State's goal: be this year's Arizona.

"If (N.C. State) can win its regional and Oregon wins, Oregon has had a wonderful year and coach (George) Horton has done a great job, but it's not like going to Arizona State back in the day or somewhere like that," Tanner said. "There's no history there."

Oregon has made one College World Series appearance – in 1954. N.C. State's only trip to Omaha was in 1968.

But first things first. Winning a regional is the first test.

Since 1999, 21 seeded teams have failed to make it out of their regional. Five seeded teams lost in 2007 including Vanderbilt, the No. 1 seed.

North Carolina is the No. 1 national seed as NCAA play begins this week. The Pack didn't crack the top eight but history has proven – seven times in the past nine years, in fact – that it might not matter.

"We're hosting a regional in Raleigh and we're proud of that," NCSU coach Elliott Avent said. "We've got three tough teams coming in. We know where we're at, we know where we've been and we know what we've got to do to be better."

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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