Baseball No. 2 seed in Long Beach State regional

by Brian Stensaas

After announcing half of the 64-team field for the NCAA baseball tournament Monday morning, ESPN 2 went to its first commercial break of the selection show.

Not one of the first 32 teams announced, coaches and players of Minnesota’s baseball team sat silent. Some fidgeted, others stared at the muted television.

“Nervous?” second baseman Luke Appert asked first baseman David Roach.

Roach nodded. And who could blame him?

One year ago, these same Gophers – winners of the Big Ten regular season only to fall short to Ohio State in the tournament – watched the selection show only to be snubbed from the national field.

Now, less than 24 hours from dropping a pair of games to the Buckeyes in the Big Ten tournament and again losing an automatic bid, tension again mounted. But this time when the station returned from its break, the Gophers were handed one of their own.

Minnesota (39-20) drew the No. 2 seed in the Long Beach State regional and will face third-seeded Washington (40-16) later this week in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

“Coming in, I think we were pretty confident we’d get a bid,” Appert said after the announcement. “But as the show kept going on and on, I was getting nervous.

“We’re all really excited. We’re going to go down there, play hard and hopefully come out of the regional.”

The 49ers (38-18) drew the top seed and will face fourth-seeded Pepperdine (36-23) in the other opening round game of the regional.

While Gophers’ coach John Anderson is pleased his Gophers are returning to the NCAA tournament after a one-year hiatus, he was hoping Siebert Field would be chosen as a regional site.

The facility was an NCAA host site in 2000, but Anderson said low ratings on amenities for players and fans likely factored into the selection committee overlooking Minneapolis.

Lincoln, Neb., is the northern-most host site.

“My only disappointment is that the kids don’t get to stay home and play,” Anderson said. “You have a better chance of advancing if you’re a host. But when you look at our facility and those that were up there on the television screen (as host sites), there’s no comparison.”

Brian Stensaas welcomes comments at [email protected]