The Citadel baseball coach Fred Jordan has just one request of the NCAA selection committee: Send the Bulldogs anywhere but Columbia.
"I just hope we don't go to South Carolina," Jordan said Sunday after his Bulldogs clinched an automatic bid to the 64-team NCAA regionals by defeating Western Carolina, 10-3, in the Southern Conference tournament title game.
"(USC coach) Ray Tanner and I laughed about that the other day. It seems like we always go to South Carolina, and our guys play them every year. Give these guys something different -- Atlanta, Auburn. That would be pretty sweet."
Columbia was one of the 16 regional sites announced by the NCAA on Sunday. That's where The Citadel played in its last two trips to the NCAA championships, in 2004 and in 2001.
Georgia Tech and Auburn are also among the regional sites, as are geographically logical spots such as Coastal Carolina, Florida, Miami and Virginia.
Looking for storylines? Twenty years ago, the Bulldogs won the Miami regional to make their first and only trip to the College World Series. And former Citadel standouts Dan McDonnell and Chris Lemonis are building a powerhouse at Louisville, which also is hosting a regional. A Bulldogs reunion there also would be sweet.
Complicating matters is the fact that The Citadel (42-20, riding a 12-game win streak) may have played itself from a No. 3 to a No. 2 seed in the regionals. The latest projection at SEBaseball.com has the Bulldogs as the No. 2 seed in Columbia. Clemson seems to be widely expected to get the No. 2 seed at Coastal Carolina.
"You hope so," Jordan said when asked if his team, No. 35 in the RPI, deserves a No. 2 seed. "We've got 42 wins, and you throw in what we did in our league, a regular season and tournament championship, that's pretty good.
"But no matter where you go, you will play somebody good," Jordan said. "If you think you are going to find a regional that doesn't have a good team, you are a fool. The 1990 team went to Miami when Miami was No. 1 in the nation."
In previous regionals, the Bulldogs have been to Florida State in 1999, Clemson in 1998, Tennessee in 1995, Clemson in 1994, Miami in 1990, North Carolina in 1983, USC in 1982, Miami in 1979 and USC in 1975.
SoCon hopes for 4, will take 3
Jordan and Western Carolina coach Bobby Moranda both think the SoCon deserves four bids to the NCAAs this year. But neither would bet the house on it happening.
"Personally, I think we need four bids," Jordan said. "But we're not going to get it. We've never gotten three before."
The Citadel's victory over Western Carolina should help the at-large hopes of Elon (38-22, No. 41 RPI). College of Charleston (42-17, No. 27 RPI) is seen as a lock for at-large bid. That's likely to leave Western Carolina (37-21-1, No. 54 RPI) on the wrong side of the bubble.
"I really believe that this league deserves four teams," Moranda said. "You look at the wins in this league, against the top 50 and top 100, against the ACC and SEC, we are a very deserving league. I think our league is very underrated nationally. This is my third year in the league, and this league is real, no doubt about it. If a third team gets in, our resume would be identical to that team, so there ought to be a fourth team."
That uncertainty is why Jordan wanted no part of waiting on an at-large bid today.
"I wasn't going to be left at the altar again," he said. "Not with these guys."
Citadel sophomore first baseman Justin Macket hit .467 with seven runs batted-in in four tournament games and received the Walt Nadzak award as the SoCon tournament's most outstanding player. He was joined on the all-tourney team by three teammates in pitcher Asher Wojciechowski, outfielder William Ladd and designated hitter Brad Felder.
The rest of the squad: pitcher Jimmy Reyes, Elon; relief pitcher Brandon Johnson, catcher Ollie Goulder and outfielder Matt Johns, Western Carolina; second baseman Wes Hobson, outfielder Chris Alessandria and third baseman Hector Crespo, Appalachian State and shortstop Jamie Holler, College of Charleston.
The crowd of 4,895 at Sunday's title game was the third-largest in SoCon tournament history ... A total of 21,511 attended the tournament, the largest turnout since 2007 and 3,691 more than last year's tourney in Greenville ... The tournament will be in Charleston again next year before going to Greenville in 2012 and 2013 ... The tournament featured a record four extra-inning games; six of 13 games were decided on walk-off plays ... Wojciechowski's 12-2 mark ties The Citadel record for most wins in a season held by Mike Cherry (1983) and Jon Ellis (2004) ... The Citadel's 42 wins are their most under Jordan and second-most in school history; the 1990 CWS team was 46-14.
- Jeff Hartsell