Canes Headed to Columbia Regional

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Miami Hurricanes have qualified for the NCAA Tournament a NCAA-record 35 consecutive years.

Miami (36-22) earned the No. 2 seed in the Columbia, Mo. Regional and will face Louisville (40-20) on Friday.

"You are always excited to go to the NCAA Tournament," Miami coach Jim Morris said. "Anytime you go on the road, it is a tough route."

Missouri (40-16) is hosting NCAA Tournament games for the first time since 1965 and will host Kent State (33-24) in their opening game. The four-team regional is a double-elimination format.

The team celebrated when they found out they were headed to Columbia, the hometown of their centerfielder Blake Tekotte.

Tekotte, a sophomore leadoff hitter who is batting .341 on the season, immediately received a text message from one of his close friends on the Missouri team.

"Coming back…," the text from Jacob Priday read.

Tekotte is headed back to Columbia, where he knows about 15 of the guys on the team.

"I am excited," said Tekotte, who was recruited by Missouri. "If we get hot, we can beat anybody. It doesn't matter who we play. As long as we play our game and don't make the small mistakes, it will be fun."

Morris said that junior lefthander Scott Maine (5-5, 3.03 ERA) is likely to get the start on Friday. Freshman lefthander Eric Erickson (10-3, 2.00) and junior righthander Enrique Garcia (7-4, 3.51 ERA) are also candidates to start.

First baseman Yonder Alonso leads the Hurricanes in batting average (.377), home runs (18), and runs batted in (74).

"Our confidence is high," Alonso said. "We are headed to Missouri, yeah it is going to be tough, but we can handle it. We can handle anything right now because we are hot."

The Columbia Regional winner will face the winner of the Fayetteville Regional, hosted by Arkansas, the No. 7 national seed, in a best-of-three series.

Last year Miami was 36-21 heading into the NCAA Tournament, but advanced to the College World Series for the 10th time in Morris' 13 years at Miami.

Christopher Stock can be reached at stock@canestime.com

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