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BASEBALL : NCAA REGIONALS : Trojans’ Dedeaux Field to Be a Tournament Site

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Eleven-time national champion USC, which has won the most NCAA Division I baseball titles, will have a home-field advantage in the NCAA playoffs beginning May 24.

USC, Fresno State, Wichita State, Louisiana State, Texas, Florida, Florida State and Maine were selected Monday as the regional sites for the 48-team tournament that ends with the eight-team College World Series May 31-June 8 at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.

The NCAA will announce the 48 teams and the seedings for the six-team regionals May 20.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to host a regional,” said Mike Gillespie, who coached the second-ranked Trojans to the championship of the Pacific 10 Southern Division and their fourth consecutive postseason appearance in his five years. “It’s a great opportunity for college baseball fans in Southern California to see six of the best teams in the country.”

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USC was eliminated in the regionals at Fresno State, Texas and LSU the last three seasons. But history will be on the Trojans’ side at Dedeaux Field, where seating capacity will be increased from 1,800 to 3,000 for the regional.

The last time USC had a regional was 1978, the year it won its 11th national title. The Trojans have won the NCAA championship the last seven times they reached Omaha.

USC, which has a 43-14-1 record this season, is 29-4 at home.

“It’s definitely in our favor that we’re hosting, considering our record here and the mystique of this place,” USC third baseman Jeff Cirillo said. “We haven’t gone (to the College World Series) in a while, but the tradition is still alive.”

The Trojans, who will end their regular season this weekend in a tournament at Chapel Hill, N.C., are one of six teams from Southern California expected to be included in the playoffs.

No. 7 Pepperdine (40-12-1), No. 8 Cal State Long Beach (40-19), No. 12 Cal State Northridge (38-15) and Cal State Fullerton (34-22) are expected to receive playoff berths. Loyola Marymount (36-20) also is a strong candidate to make the field.

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