IRVINE, Calif. The seventh-ranked Virginia baseball team opens NCAA tournament play at 7 p.m. ET Friday when it takes on San Diego State in the NCAA Irvine Regional in Irvine, Calif. ESPNU will televise the entire regional.
The Cavaliers (43-12-1) are seeded second in the regional. UC Irvine (43-13), the nation’s top-ranked team and the No. 6 national seed in the tournament, is the No. 1 seed, while San Diego State (40-21) is No. 3 and defending national champion Fresno State (32-28) is No. 4. UCI and Fresno State will play the second game Friday at 11 p.m. ET.
Virginia has never faced any of the three teams in the Irvine Regional.
Virginia is one of 15 Division I baseball programs to reach the NCAA tournament each of the last six seasons (including 09). The Cavaliers are one of four schools in the ACC to hold that distinction, joining Florida State, Miami and North Carolina. The other programs are Arizona State, Arkansas, Cal State Fullerton, Missouri, Oral Roberts, Rice, South Carolina, Southern Miss, TCU, Texas and Wichita State.
Virginia is making the trip out west for the second straight season. The Cavaliers competed at the NCAA Fullerton Regional last year, defeating Rider and losing to UCLA and Cal State Fullerton.
The Cavaliers are coming off the program’s third ACC championship after winning the ACC Baseball Championship last weekend in Durham, N.C. Virginia defeated Clemson, North Carolina, Duke and Florida State en route to the title.
In the NCAA opener, UVa will start RHP Robert Morey (So., Virginia Beach, Va.). San Diego State has not named a starting pitcher.
San Diego State reached the championship game of the Mountain West Conference tournament championship, falling to Utah in the title game. The Aztecs finished 15-9 (fourth) in the Mountain West regular season and are coached by MLB Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. The Aztecs boast one of the nation’s premier starting pitchers, right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who is 13-0 with a 1.24 ERA and 180 strikeouts this year.
UC Irvine, ranked No. 1 in the national polls, clinched an automatic berth to the NCAA postseason by winning the Big West Conference championship. The Anteaters finished conference play with a 22-2 mark.
Fresno State played its way into the NCAA tournament by winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament champion. The defending national champions survived four elimination games to win their fourth straight WAC tournament title.