NCAA Baseball Regional Ready to Begin at Davenport Field
UVa will take on Bucknell Friday at 2pm
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (WVIR) -
The Virginia, Arkansas, Liberty, and Bucknell baseball teams were practicing at Davenport Field Thursday, as the Charlottesville Regional in the NCAA Tournament will get started Friday.
The Cavaliers are hosting a regional for the fifth year in a row.
All four teams were practicing at Davenport Field Thursday.
Virginia is the #3 National seed behind Florida and top-seed Oregon State. The 'Hoos come in with a record of 44-13, despite losing four of their last six games.
UVa has been ranked in the Top-5 all season long, thanks in part to its outstanding defense and pitching.
Senior Artie Lewicki has been tabbed as Virginia's starting pitcher for Thursday's opener against Bucknell.
Head coach Brian O'Connor says, "I believe he is pitching as well as anyone on our pitching staff, and I felt with him being the senior, he's earned the right to hopefully get this Regional started off on the right foot, and I'm very confident that he'll go out there and do a great job."
Lewicki says, "There's a calm excitement to it. Like coach O'Connor said, Bucknell is a great team that deserves our respect, as do the rest of the teams in this tournament, and I'm just going to go out and treat it like its any other game, and hopefully pitch the same."
The Regional's 4-seed, Bucknell, got an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament by winning the Patriot League Championship.
This is the 4th straight year, and 6th time in the last nine years, that the team that won the Patriot League has been sent to the Charlottesville Regional.
The Bison had a record of 30-19 this season.
Virginia and bucknell played twice last season in Charlottesville with UVa winning both times by a combined score of 21-5.
Bucknell head coach Scott Heather says, "I saw their team. They have a lot of the same guys. A lot of quality players out there, and certainly it'll be a challenge for us."
Senior first baseman Anthony Gingerelli says, "We have a new team. Although they have a lot of returning guys, they have the same team. I'm looking forward to it. Obviously we're playing a very competitive team. We're going to come out guns blazing, and ready to play."
Heather says the Cavaliers pitching and defense is as good as always, and the hitting is even more of a threat.
"This team, more than other teams we've played in the past, has a deep lineup, with a lot of quality bats in that lineup," says Heather. "Impressive all the way around."
Sophomore INF/OR Joe Ogren says, "This is what it's all about. This is the time of the year that everybody gets hot, and we're all here to take care of business."
Arkansas is the 2-seed in the Charlottesville Regional, and will play Liberty in its first game.
The Razorbacks had the nation's top ranked pitching staff last year.
They are 15th in the country this year with a 2.63 team ERA.
Arkansas is making its 13th straight NCAA tournament appearance.
The Razorbacks have been to the College World Series seven times, and they feel they're battle-tested coming from the powerful SEC.
Sophomore outfielder Tyler Spoon says, "Friday night in the SEC you're going to see a guy who throws anywhere from 92-95 mph. Lambert, he kind of reminds of the Auburn guy who came to our place and did a great job against us. Our mindset is just to attack and be aggressive. The experience is the SEC has helped us out a lot and I think this regional is kind of similar to it."
The Liberty Flames are the 3-seed in the regional.
Flames coach Jim Toman got his team's attention by stepping to the plate and taking a little batting practice himself.
Liberty has a record of 41-16 this year, and at one point this season it looked like the Flames might have a chance to host a regional.
The teams ranks 14th in the nation in team ERA.
Coach Toman says he was impressed with his teams performance during batting practice Thursday at Davenport Field.
"We did hit quite a few out, I kind of liked that a little bit," says Toman. "Hopefully we get a few up in the air during the tournament, if we can make contact with these pitching staffs that are here."
Junior first baseman Alex Close says, "We've hit good pitchers before, so it's just going to be a matter of going up there and competing and trying to win each pitch."
Senior pitcher Trey Lambert will get the start for the Flames against Arkansas Friday.
"This is what we've been preparing for all season," says Lambert "We went into the opening weekend with the intent of playing in the postseason. Having the opportunity to be here, we're going to go out, and play like we've prepared to play."
Close adds, "Our lineup, from top to bottom, most of us have been here. We know we're not supposed to win. We're going to go out, play hard, and try to shock the world."
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