CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — The four-team NCAA regional baseball tournament got underway Friday on the campus of Coastal Carolina University with the Chanticleers setting their sights on returning to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
Duke (35-21) and UNC Wilmington (34-21) squared off in the first game at 1 p.m., with the Blue Devils winning 12-3. The first pitch for host CCU’s game against New Jersey-based Rider University (35-19) is set for 7 p.m. The Chanticleers enter the tournament with a 39-19 record.
All 2,500 seats for each of the seven regional games are sold out, but there are standing-room-only tickets available. With big crowds expected throughout the weekend, officials say hosting the tournament is a win-win situation for the university.
“It’s a signature event for all of our areas on campus,” said Matt Hogue, the vice president of intercollegiate athletics at CCU. “It’s huge for our team to have the privilege to play at home to start the road Omaha. It’s huge for the ability to expose our campus to ESPN viewers across the globe at this time of year when it means so much in an NCAA regional, and I think it instills a lot of pride for alumni, our current students, our faculty, staff. It’s a big deal and it’s just one of the reasons that you want to have a really good competitive athletic program because it raises the level for all those areas.”
The Chanticleers, who were crowned NCAA champions in 2016, are the 10th seed in this year’s NCAA tournament. It’s the fifth time CCU has been the top seed in a regional tournament.
Regionals are also taking place this weekend at 15 other sites across the country.
Each of the 16 regional tournament winners will advance to super regionals, where the eight winners will move on to College World Series, which is scheduled to start on June 16.
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Dennis Bright is a digital producer at News13. Dennis is a West Virginia native and graduate of Marshall University. He has won copyediting and journalism awards in West Virginia and Ohio. Follow Dennis on Twitter and read more of his work here.