Cal State Fullerton earned the No. 5 national seeding and Long Beach State will be the host of one of the nation’s toughest regionals, the co-Big West champions learned Monday when the NCAA unveiled the 64-team college baseball tournament bracket.
Fullerton (37-19) will open play against Rider (29-26), champion of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Friday at Fullerton, in a regional that also includes UCLA (31-25) and Virginia (38-21).
But the Long Beach regional was the early talk of the tournament with the 49ers (37-19) welcoming West Coast Conference champion San Diego (41-15), Western Athletic Conference champion Fresno State (37-27) and California (33-19-2), which had the Pacific 10’s No. 2 offense.
“It’s a tough one, no doubt about that,” Long Beach State Coach Mike Weathers said. “San Diego could easily be a No. 1 seed in any regional and Fresno State is a conference champion. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m OK with that.”
Fullerton will open against Rider, with a possible second-round game against UCLA that would be a rematch of Fullerton’s super regional sweep of the Bruins last year.
“It doesn’t matter what happened last year or even this year,” said Titans Coach Dave Serrano, whose team has won five consecutive regionals. “Anyone who is still playing at this time of year deserves to be playing and they’re all equally dangerous.”
Pepperdine (36-19), the WCC runner-up, will open play against Arkansas (34-22) at the Stanford regional in Palo Alto, and UC Irvine (38-16), the Cinderella of last year’s tournament, will head to Lincoln, Neb., where the Anteaters open against Oral Roberts.
UC Santa Barbara (35-21) and USC (28-28) didn’t make the tournament. The Gauchos finished tied for third in the Big West, but didn’t get in even though sixth-place UC Davis (34-22) did.
“I guess we didn’t give the committee enough ammo to pick us,” Santa Barbara Coach Bob Brontsema said. “It’s disappointing because I really feel like we have a team that could go in there and compete.”