Tide to host NCAA regional

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The 2002 Southeastern Conference Tournament Champion Alabama Crimson Tide was awarded a national No. 3 seed by the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee on Monday and will host the 2002 NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional beginning this Friday, May 31 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Alabama (48-13, 20-10 SEC) will host the Ohio Valley Conference champion Southeast Missouri State Indians (36-18, 16-5 OVC) on Friday at 6:30 p.m. The first game of the four-team, double elimination tournament features the Auburn Tigers (34-24) against the Florida Atlantic Blue Wave (43-18) beginning at 1:30 p.m.

"It is exciting to have the opportunity to host a regional and super-regional in Tuscaloosa," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "This is what we played for all season long. We had a great regular season to earn the regional and then played hard at the SEC Tournament to wrap up a super regional hosting bid. I'm just glad to be back in the NCAA Tournament.

"The OVC is not as a strong a conference as the SEC but in baseball it only takes some good pitching and a few hot hitters to make a run in the tournament. Any team still playing at this time of year is a pretty good team. We are going to spend the next 24-36 hours trying to learn as much as we can about Southeast Missouri. The only way we can get information on them will probably be by phone or fax. When we see the stats that will tell us a few initial things about them."

The winner of the Tuscaloosa Regional will be paired with the winner of the Atlanta Regional (Georgia Tech, Georgia, Louisville and Coastal Carolina) in next week's NCAA Super Regional, which begins Friday, June 7 and continues through Sunday, June 9. Alabama has bid on the Super Regional and the site will not be announced until next Monday, June 3.

Joining Alabama as the national Top 8 seeds are No. 1 Florida State (56-12), No. 2 Clemson (47-14), No. 4 Rice (47-11), No. 5 Texas (48-14), No. 6 South Carolina (48-14), No. 7 Wake Forest (44-11-1) and No. 8 Stanford (40-16).

"That was a little bit of a surprise to me since last week we had fallen out of the top eight in most of the rankings," Wells added. "We played hard at the SEC Tournament and I think winning that went along way in moving us back up there."

The Crimson Tide and Tigers will play in the same NCAA Regional for the first time in history. Alabama swept the three-game regular-season series from Auburn at Sewell-Thomas Stadium (April 26-28), winning 8-6, 6-5 and 7-0.

"It is probably a great thing for the fans that Auburn is in our regional. I think I'd maybe like to be playing somebody different. I was not totally surprised to see their name come up in our regional. After hearing over the past few weeks about how the committee was trying to limit travel and keep teams within 400 miles of their campus if at all possible, then Auburn became an option for us. It is still a little different to have another SEC team in our regional. It's just unusual from the past."

Alabama defeated Florida Atlantic 8-3 on Mar. 3, 2002 in the final game of the Hormel Foods Classic at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. The win over the Blue Wave clinched the tournament championship for the Crimson Tide. Following the Alabama loss, FAU posted a 27-game winning streak. In 1999, FAU tied the NCAA record with a 34-game winning streak.

The Crimson Tide has never met Southeast Missouri State in baseball.

Alabama won the 2002 Western Division championship, its 10th divisional title. This past weekend, Alabama posted a 4-1 record en route to winning its sixth SEC Tournament Championship (1983, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2002) and fifth under Wells.

Tickets for the three-day tournament are now on sale and may be purchased in tickets books through the Alabama Athletic Ticket Office in person or by calling (205) 348-2262. Ticket books are priced at $65 each for lower chairback seats, $55 for upper level grandstand and $50 for left field reserved bleachers. If available, individual game tickets will not be sold until Friday, May 31.

All fans are encouraged to purchase the Tuscaloosa Regional ticket books as soon as possible. Tickets will be available for pickup at the Athletic Ticket Office in Coleman Coliseum beginning Wednesday, May 29.

2002 Tuscaloosa Regional Bracket

Friday, May 31, Game 1, 1:30 PM, No. 2 Auburn (34-24) vs. No. 3 Florida Atlantic (43-18)

                Game 2, 6:30 PM, No. 1 Alabama (48-13) vs. No. 4 SE Missouri St. (36-18)

Saturday, June 1, Game 3, 11 AM, Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser

                  Game 4, 3 PM,  Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner

                  Game 5, 7 PM,  Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser

Sunday, June 2, Game 6, 2 PM, Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner

                Game 7, ***,  If Necessary
 *** -- 45 minutes after the conclusion of Game 6.

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