FLORENCE, SC – Francis Marion University has been tabbed as the second seed for this week’s NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Baseball Tournament to be played in Aiken at USC Aiken’s Roberto Hernandez Stadium.
The Patriots, who moved up two spots in this week’s Collegiate Baseball Magazine NCAA Division II Top 30 poll to seventh, will face 30th-ranked and fifth-seeded Tusculum College (36-16) on Thursday at 3 p.m.
Thursday’s two other opening-round games will have third-seeded and 20th-ranked Georgia College & State University (37-17) playing fourth-seeded and 21st-ranked Catawba College (35-16) at 11 a.m. and top-seeded and fifth-ranked USC Aiken (39-17) meeting sixth-seeded Belmont Abbey College at 7 p.m.
The six-team tournament is a double-elimination format. The regional winner advances to the Division II World Series, May 23-30, at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
The Patriots are 36-13-1 after winning this past weekend’s Peach Belt Conference Tournament title on the same field that will host the regional. The win total equals the second-highest in team history, also accomplished in 2007. The team also owns a 15-game winning streak, longest in the 37-year history of the program.
Tusculum won the only previous meeting between the two programs: a 5-1 decision on March 7, 2000.
If FMU wins its opening game, the Patriots will play the GCSU/Catawba winner on Friday at 7 p.m. A Patriot loss to Tusculum would place FMU in the losers’ bracket against the USCA/BAC loser on Friday at 11 a.m.
This will be Francis Marion’s fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament, and fourth in the past seven seasons. Head coach Art Inabinet guided the 2006 Patriot squad to a 41-18 mark, the regional championship, and the school’s only appearance in the World Series.
FMU junior shortstop and right-handed relief pitcher Barrett Kleinknecht was named the MVP of the PBC Tournament, while sophomore first baseman Preston Shuey and junior left-handed starting pitcher Josh Edgin were both named to the All-Tournament Team.
The 48-team NCAA Division II National Tournament field was released late Sunday (May 10) night. The tournament consists of eight regionals. Nineteen teams, including Francis Marion, earned automatic berths by winning their conference titles. Tusculum, a member of the South Atlantic Conference, received an at-large invitation.
The Patriots were 5-3 during the regular season against teams in the regional tournament.