SAN BRUNO, Calif. – Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s will represent the West Coast Conference in the 2016 NCAA Baseball Regionals as revealed this morning on ESPNU. The Gaels are in the midst of an historic season and will compete in their first-ever NCAA Regional after winning the first WCC Championship in program history, while Gonzaga earned its first-ever NCAA at-large selection.
This is the third time in the last five seasons that multiple WCC programs have qualified for NCAA Regional play and the first since San Diego and San Francisco represented the conference in 2013.
GONZAGA – FORTH WORT REGIONAL (TCU)
The Gonzaga University baseball team earned its first-ever at-large berth to the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship on Monday, being selected to play in the Fort Worth Regional on June 3-5.
Gonzaga (35-19) is the No. 3 seed in the regional to be played at TCU and will play No. 2-seed Arizona State (34-21) in opening game at Noon PT/2 p.m. CT. Top-seeded TCU (42-15) will take on Oral Roberts (38-19) on Friday following the GU-ASU game at 4:30 p.m. PT/6:30 p.m. CT. The trip to Fort Worth is also a return for Gonzaga this season as the Zags went 1-2 in a three-game series against TCU on March 4-6.
“Today is a very exciting day for Gonzaga baseball,” said Gonzaga head coach Mark Machtolf. “We received our first at-large bid in program history. We’re very excited for our guys and for the entire athletic department.”
Gonzaga has an overall record of 35-19 during 2016 with 23 of those wins coming in road games, the second-most in the nation. The Bulldogs earned a share of the West Coast Conference regular season title – the third in program history – with an 18-9 conference mark, and their 35 overall wins are the most since 2009.
Last weekend, Gonzaga won two games at the WCC Championship and competed in the tournament’s title game. The Bulldogs opened the tournament with a 5-3 win on the back of Brandon Bailey’s 17 strikeouts on May 26, and they clinched their spot in the conference finale a day later with a Tyler Frost walk-off home run to down Pepperdine.
This is the second time the Zags have competed in the NCAA Tournament during its current Super Regional format. The first came in 2009 when the Zags clinched the WCC’s automatic qualifier with two wins over Loyola Marymount in the WCC Series.
SAINT MARY’S – RALEIGH REGIONAL (NC State)
MORAGA, Calif. — The Saint Mary’s baseball team is headed to Raleigh, N.C., and the campus of North Carolina State University for its first-ever trip to the NCAA Regionals.
The Gaels (33-23) will be the No. 3 seed in the Raleigh Regional and will face No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina (44-15) in the opening game at 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT Friday. Host and No. 1 seed NC State (35-20) will play the No. 4 seed Navy (42-14-1). All games of the regional will be streamed live on WatchESPN and available via the ESPN app.
“(NC State) is a very good baseball program, historic,” said Saint Mary’s head coach Eric Valenzuela. “It’s a great regional. Navy’s really good, Coastal Carolina, I know they were talking about them being a potential host and No. 1 seed, so we’ve got our hands full. But to take these guys across the country is going to be a great experience and we’ll be ready to go.”
Saint Mary’s earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament by winning the West Coast Conference Tournament championship on Saturday, beating Gonzaga 13-4 in the championship game. In the process, the Gaels set a new WCC tournament record with 34 runs scored in just three games. They were also one base hit shy of the tournament record with 42. The Gaels won a share of their first-ever WCC title on May 22 when they completed a sweep on the road at Portland to conclude the conference season.
“We’re all really excited,” said sophomore right-handed pitcher Drew Strotman. “Ever since we got into the (conference) tournament this has all been uncharted territory for Saint Mary’s. Getting into it, we don’t really know what to expect but we have an idea and we know we’re ready to get in there and shock some people.”
The Gaels have 33 wins this season – their most in nearly 40 years (41, 1977). Valenzuela was named 2016 WCC Coach of the Year and has turned the program around in just three seasons. SMC was 16-39 in his first season of 2014, and now has a regular season title, conference tournament title and NCAA Regionals berth – all program firsts.
The Gaels own wins this season over three NCAA Tournament participants, including Pac-12 champion Utah and runner-up Washington. The Gaels went 6-7 against 2016 tournament teams, including a 4-1 mark against WCC at-large team Gonzaga.
WCC IN THE 2016 NCAA REGIONALS
Friday, June 3
No. 3 Gonzaga (35-19) vs. No. 2 Arizona State (34-21) – 12:00 p.m. PDT (
RALEIGH REGIONAL (NC State)
Friday, June 3
No. 3 Saint Mary’s (33-23) vs. No. 2 Coastal Carolina (44-15) – 11:00 a.m. PDT (ESPN3/WatchESPN)