LEXINGTON – Sure, it would appear the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee gave a raw deal to the University of Kentucky baseball team, overlooking the Wildcats as a host for a regional tournament site, instead placing UK in a regional tournament in Gary, Ind.
Not only that, but making the 43-16 Wildcats a No. 2 seed to Big 10 champ Purdue.
Forget for a moment that Kentucky went into the last game of the regular season in college baseball’s toughest conference, the SEC, with a chance to at least share the conference championship.
Forget that Kentucky reached the SEC Tournament semifinals, losing a 2-1 heartbreaker to Mississippi State.
Keep in mind that UK had already beaten Mississippi State once in the SEC Tournament, but at the semifinal stage, the conference switches from double elimination to single elimination.
Which makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Add that to the NCAA snub and this gives college baseball all the credibility of figure skating judging.
And then there’s Gary, Indiana as a host site. Get this, the reason the region’s top seed, Purdue, is not hosting the tournament at its home stadium in West Lafayette, Ind., is because the Boilermakers do not have a home field “capable” of hosting an NCAA regional, according to a press release from UK this week.
Question: Does Purdue have four bases and a pitchers’ mound? Not that the Boilers don’t have a fine baseball tradition.
So Purdue isn’t “capable’’ of hosting such an event, but Gary, Indiana is? I mean, Hello NCAA! Gary, Indiana is your backup plan?
This is already way past the “you’ve got to be kidding me stage” isn’t it? But I digress. The tournament will be played, Friday through Sunday, at a facility titled – I’m not making this up – U.S. Steel Yard, which is the home of a team named the Gary Southshore Railcats, which is an independent league team.
I suppose if rain dampens this regional, they’ll move the games to a downtown warehouse at Fifth and Main.
I have been to Gary. And I wouldn’t spend a night there if John Lennon and George Harrison came back to Earth for a reunion Beatles concert at what would be, no doubt, a rocking U.S. Steel Yard.
The NCAA brought this travesty to light early Monday.
Miami of Florida, tied for fifth in the ACC, is one tournament site, which tells you the selection committee wasn’t paying attention at their meeting site, which you can bet wasn’t in Gary, Indiana.
Obviously, Kentucky coach Gary Henderson and his Wildcats need to have a much better attitude about all of this than I do as they prepare to tackle a field that includes the above-mentioned Purdue (44-12), along with Kent State (41-17) and Valparaiso (35-23).
“You’re disappointed in a lot of things in athletics,” Henderson said this week. “I fumbled against Marshfield High School in October of ‘78, cost us a touchdown. I’m disappointed about that, but you move on and that’s all you can do.
“You can’t hold on to that stuff very long,” added Henderson, who came into this spring on a hot seat and earned SEC Coach of the Year honors along the way. “You’ve got to get going, and you’ve got to look forward. We’ve got Kent State Friday night, and that’s what you have to focus on.”
TOURNAMENT NOTES: Games in the double-elimination Gary regional (assuming the NCAA doesn’t make this single elimination midway through...) will be played at 4 and 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The “if-necessary” game would be played Monday at 8...
Sophomore J.T. Riddle, a Western Hills High graduate, has been a mainstay for the Wildcats this spring, starting all 59 games. Riddle comes into the region batting .285, with 59 hits in 207 at-bats. He has 37 runs batted in and five home runs, and an on-base percentage of .358. And Riddle is among the team leaders in fielding percentage, at .972...
UK centerfielder Austin Cousino has been named freshman of the year in the SEC. Cousino, from Dublin, Ohio, is also a second team, All-SEC outfielder. He re-wrote the UK freshman record book, setting new marks in hits (76) and runs scored (56). Cousino also has been named to the 22-man USA Collegiate National Team, becoming only the third UK player in school history to earn that honor...
Pitcher Corey Littrell and catcher Luke Maile have also earned second team All-SEC honors for the Wildcats, with Littrell tabbed as a starting pitcher.