UVa. earns #1 national seed in NCAA baseball tourney

The Virginia baseball team has been awarded the No. 1 national seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament, the NCAA announced Monday. The Cavaliers will play host to the NCAA Charlottesville Regional June 3-6 at Davenport Field and will be joined by East Carolina, St. John’s and Navy for the double-elimination tournament.

A national seed in the 64-team field for the second straight year as well as the second time in program history, Virginia will begin the tournament at 1 p.m. Friday against Navy. East Carolina and St. John’s will play the nightcap at 6 p.m.

The losing teams from Friday will square off in an elimination game at 1 p.m. Saturday, while the winners will play at 6 p.m. Saturday. The second elimination game will be contested at 1 p.m. Sunday, with the championship game slated for 6 p.m. Sunday. If necessary, a second championship game will be played at 6 p.m. Monday.

All games of the regional will be webcast on NCAA.com.

Virginia (49-9, 22-8 ACC) is the regional’s top seed after capturing the 2011 ACC Coastal Division title as well as the ACC tournament championship. UVa will be competing in its eighth-consecutive NCAA tournament and is one of 13 schools to play in each of the last eight tournaments. Virginia will serve as a regional host site for the fifth time – all in the last eight years (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011).

No. 2 seed East Carolina (39-19, 14-10 Conference USA) received an at-large berth in the tournament. The Pirates and Cavaliers played earlier this season, with UVa winning two of three games in Charlottesville from Feb. 25-27. Two of the three games were determined by one run. ECU is anchored by its strong pitching staff, which owns a C-USA-best 2.58 ERA. Trent Whitehead leads the Pirates with a .332 batting average.

No. 3 seed St. John’s (35-20, 18-8 Big East) received an at-large berth in the field after finishing as the runner-up to Seton Hall at the Big East tournament. SJU is another familiar foe for the Cavaliers, having playing in the 2010 Charlottesville Regional championship vs. UVa. Junior shortstop Joe Panik leads the team with a .404 batting average, as well as nine homers and 56 RBI. Kyle Hansen anchors the pitching staff with an 8-6 record and 2.70 ERA in 103.1 innings.

No. 4 seed Navy (33-23-1, 12-8 Colonial) earned the Patriot League’s automatic berth after winning the league’s championship series, two games to one, over rival Army. Navy will be appearing in its first NCAA tournament since 2002. The Midshipmen are led at the plate by Taylor Cato, who is batting .342, and Alex Azor, who is hitting .332 with a team-high 75 hits. Virginia will be playing Navy for the first time since 2009.

UVa owns a 17-10 edge in the all-time series with Navy. The Cavaliers are 22-18 against ECU and 12-4 versus St. John’s.

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