NCAA Regional Preview

The NCAA baseball 64 team regional brackets were announced Monday morning on ESPN and the Arizona State Sun Devils (34-22) now know whom they will be hosting in this weekend's regional at Packard Stadium. The Devils received the number two seed in the four-team bracket and will be facing the third seeded Pirates of East Carolina (35-24) on Friday at 7 p.m. at Packard Stadium.

In the upper half of the bracket the number one seeded Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (48-14) will be facing the fourth seeded UNLV Rebels (34-27) in a 2 p.m. game. The regional is a double elimination tournament that affords each team one loss, with the eventual winner moving on to the super-regional.

The Devils were both surprised and excited when they received yesterday's news that they'd be hosting a first round regional. Last years baseball team was a one seed going into the regional tournament, yet they still had to travel to Fullerton to face the Cal State Fullerton Titans (the eventual national champions) who were a two seed. When asked about the difference between playing at home compared to the road here's what Sun Devil head coach Pat Murphy had to say. "It's an advantage for us to be able to host. But sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself or the guy's play to tense because they try to prove something and it works against you. I hope our team is mature enough with all the places they've been and all the times we've had. I hope they're mature enough and they play well this weekend."

Murphy also commented on this weekend's possible match-ups, beginning with Friday's opponent, the East Carolina Pirates. "We played them four times in the last year so we're at least familiar with them. They're a very good ball club that's been playing well lately. Coastal Carolina, year in and year out a great ball club and they had a sensational year. UNLV is a familiar team with us too. It's a tough regional we just got to play every game."

Sun Devil junior outfielder Travis Buck was asked about the teams they'd be facing in this weekend's regional and here's what Buck had to say about the competition. "We know Coastal Carolina had a great record and they beat Georgia Tech and North Carolina back-to-back and those are some pretty good teams. East Carolina is a pretty good team, we were fortunate to beat them at home last year and there this year and were expecting a battle." Buck also gave us his thoughts about hosting a regional this year compared to being on the road, "It's a big relief, just being able to sleep in our own beds. We're fortunate enough to be playing at Packard and we're real excited."

The Devils are expected to announce senior Jason Urquidez as Friday's starter (although it's still up in the air) and he shared his thoughts about ASU's draw in the tournament. "I feel good, I'm just glad that were hosting. I think we have a little bit of an advantage with the heat, we're used to it and most teams aren't." Urquidez was also asked about his mental preparation for the upcoming tournament. "I'm going to go as long as I can and as hard as I can. I want to just keep it close because I know that our sticks will come around."

Senior Jeff Larish had this to say about Friday night's opponent the ECU Pirates, "We played them out there and were successful against them so hopefully we can continue that success here." Larish also gave us his thoughts about this year's team and his feelings on if they had what it took to get to that next level. "I feel that with the schedule we played we've been through so much this year. We've had so many up's and downs and I don't think we'll experience anything new or anything tougher than we faced during the season, so I feel that helps us."

The Devils first round opponent the East Carolina Pirates, who are out of Conference-USA, finished the regular season 35-24 and 18-12 in league play. The Pirates are led by senior outfielder and first team All-C-USA performer Brian Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh leads the team with a .379 BA and also leads the team in hits (75), total bases (114), slugging percentage (.576), on-base percentage (.444) and stolen bases (14). He also ripped seven homeruns, scored 48 runs, and drove in 35 runs.

As a team the Pirates belted 58 total homeruns on the season, led by outfielder Drew Costanzo's 11 long balls. They are a very good offensive ball club and also have a few solid pitchers. Freshman right-hander and second team All-C-USA performer T.J. Hose led the Pirates in wins with a 7-3 record and had an ERA of 3.95. Sophomore starter Ricky Brooks was named first team All-C-USA as he finished the year at 5-5 with a 3.75 ERA including 3 three complete games (two being shutouts). The Devils did face the Pirates earlier in the season in North Carolina for a tournament game in which the Devils came away with a 10-3 victory.

The No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina Chanticleers of the Big South Conference, come in with a record of 48-14. The Chanticleers have been in ranked in the top 25 for the better part of the season with their most recent ranking being 23rd. The Chanticleers are led by junior Second Team All-American (USA Today Sports Weekly) Mike Costanzo, who was also named the Big South Player of the Year. Costanzo leads the Chanticleers in batting average (.388), runs (69), hits (85), homeruns (15), RBI (61), total bases (147), slugging percentage (.671), walks (68), and on-base percentage (.543).

On the mound junior right-hander Ricky Shefka led Coastal with an outstanding 11-2 record and 2.51 ERA. Shefka also had 76 strikeouts compared to just 20 walks. Senior right-hander and fellow starter Jake Hurry was second on the team with 10 wins and a 5.19 ERA. Hurry was 10-3 on the year and has an overall record of 25-7 for his collegiate career. Costanzo wasn't just the man at the plate for the Chanticleers, he was also their top reliever out of the bullpen. Costanzo finished the year with an 8-1 record including 13 saves and an amazing 1.75 ERA. Costanzo also struck out 65 batters in just 51.1 innings of work. The bullpen is definitely one of the Chanticleers strengths.

The Rebels of UNLV come in with a record of 34-27 including a 23-7 record in the Mountain West Conference. The Rebels have won 14 of their last 17 games including their third consecutive MWC Championship. The Rebels have a team batting average of .311 and hit 67 homeruns on the year. The leading homerun hitter for UNLV was sophomore catcher Justin Tellam, who hit 16 round trippers for the Rebels. Junior outfielder Ryan Bird also had a very productive year at the plate, hitting .342 with 53 runs scored, seven homeruns, and 54 runs batted in. Both players were named All-MWC performers this year.

The tournament set-up and game times are as follows-

NCAA Tempe Regional Schedule

Thursday, June 2
Practice - TBA

Friday, June 3

Game 1 - #1 Coastal Carolina vs. #4 UNLV, 2 p.m.
Game 2 - #2 Arizona State vs. #3 East Carolina, 7 p.m.

Saturday, June 4

Game 3 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 2 p.m.
Game 4 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7 p.m.

Sunday, June 5

Game 5 - Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 11 a.m.
Game 6 - Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 3 p.m.

Monday, June 6

Game 7 - Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6, 6 p.m. (if necessary)

All the Sun Devil faithful need to come out in full force next weekend to root on our team. One of the reasons the NCAA chose Arizona State to host the regional because of our solid attendance over the years and the great fan support we show our Sun Devil baseball team. The committee already knows that we have a great baseball team and great facilities now we need to show them we have great fans as well.

Ticket information can be found at or by calling the Sun Devil ticket office at (480) 727-0000.

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