OMAHA, Neb. – Oregon State has proved itself as the best in the West. The NCAA Division I Baseball Committee also thinks the Beavers are best in the nation.
The committee Monday made the Pac-12 champions the top seed for the NCAA tournament instead of SEC regular-season winner Florida and a Virginia team that has been one of the more consistent in the nation but failed to win the ACC title.
“I thought if you took Florida and Oregon State and Virginia, you could find a reason for any of them to be the (No. 1) seed,” Beavers coach Pat Casey said. “When it came down to the fact neither Florida or Virginia were automatic qualifiers, I thought that might swing it our way.”
The other five national seeds, in order, are: Indiana, Florida State, Louisiana-Lafayette, TCU and LSU.
Oregon State (42-12) is the No. 1 seed for the first time after being No. 3 a year ago. The Beavers have one of the nation’s better starting rotations in Ben Wetzler, Jace Fry and Andrew Moore and one of the top offensive players in the country in left fielder Michael Conforto.
Florida (40-21) won the SEC regular-season title for the third time in five years and reached the conference tournament final. The Gators’ schedule ranks as toughest in the country, and they’re 16-5 in one-run games.
Virginia (44-13) has the ACC’s top pitching staff, headed by sophomore left-hander Nathan Kirby, but the Cavaliers lost four of their past six games.
The tournament opens Friday with 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals. Best-of-three super regionals will be held next week, with those winners moving to the College World Series in Omaha.
National seeds that win their regionals play at home in super regionals.
The Southeastern Conference has 10 teams in the tournament, the most ever by a conference. The Atlantic Coast Conference is represented by seven schools, the Big 12 and Pac-12 by five apiece and the Big West by four.
Thirty-two of the 64 teams were in the field last year.
Miami is in the field for the 42nd straight year, extending its own record. Florida State is in for the 37th season in a row, second all-time. Miami coach Jim Morris isn’t pleased with the prospect of his ACC regular-season champion team having to play at Florida in a super regional. Though Farrell listed Rice and Vanderbilt as teams that were edged out for national seeds, Miami was in the running for one before it lost two of three in the ACC tournament.
“You never know the rhyme or reason for where you’re going to go,” Morris said on the ESPNU selection show. “It makes no sense to me, if we’re on the borderline, to be going to possibly the No. 2 seed.”
Florida will be challenged this weekend. It will be hosting the Big West’s second-place team in Long Beach State, a North Carolina squad with lots of postseason experience, and a 41-win College of Charleston that’s the bottom seed in the regional.
“This is probably a regional we need,” Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We tend to play up to our competition or sometimes down to our competition.”