augusta free press news

A look at NCAA baseball tourney prospects for local teams

Report by Chris Graham

#1 UVa. and #15 Virginia Tech are looking good, Liberty is on the bubble, and JMU, VCU and VMI are in need of wins in their conference tournaments. That’s the quick and dirty on the postseason hopes for the top contenders in D1 college baseball in Virginia.

Virginia (43-9, 21-6 ACC, #2 RPI) completed a three-game sweep of #21 North Carolina in dramatic fashion on Sunday, getting a John Barr three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to knock off the Tar Heels 5-3 in front of a Davenport Field record crowd of 4,825. The Cavs finish up ACC play with a three-game series at #13 Miami (37-13, 19-8 ACC, #8 RPI) this weekend that will effectively decide the regular-season champion in the ACC Coastal.

UVa. appears to be all but set for a top-eight national seed that would make Davenport a host site in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and would put the ‘Hoos in a position to host a Super Regional should the team advance to that stage.

Virginia Tech (36-16, 16-11 ACC, #27 RPI) lost to Duke 11-7 on Sunday but still took two of three at home against the Blue Devils. The Hokies pretty much a lock for an NCAA bid at this point barring a complete collapse down the stretch with a three-game series at UNC this weekend and then the ACC Tournament next week.

A #2 or #3 regional seed and a road trip appear to be in order for Tech come NCAA time.

From here things get murky. Liberty (37-15, 18-6 Big South, #45 RPI) is likely on the outside looking in right now, but that RPI could have the Flames on the bubble for at-large consideration. The three-game sweep of Liberty by Coastal Carolina (45-6, 23-0 Big South, #3 RPI) in Lynchburg over the weekend didn’t help. Even one win in the series would have been a serious boost to Liberty’s NCAA hopes. It could be that the Flames will need to win the Big South tournament to get an invite.

VMI (31-18, 12-12 Big South, #72 RPI) is certainly in that position, and curiously so. A 12-3 Keydets win over UVa. in Lexington on April 14 had VMI sitting at 29-5 overall and on the fringe of the Top 25, but the team has gone just 2-13 since.

An unlikely run through the Big South tournament is imperative.

JMU (26-20, 16-5 CAA, #75 RPI) and VCU (30-20, 15-5 CAA, #141 RPI) will battle in Richmond this weekend for the CAA regular-season championship, but what will matter more will be who wins the conference tournament next week. Neither gets in without that automatic berth.