Saturday Statements - It was dogpile Saturday

Lots of celebrating out there in stitched-ball land. Of course, that also means lots of hearbreak too. But we're going to accentuate the positive here instead.

Texas Southern got the dogpile groove started earlier this week with it's improbable run through the SWAC tournament. This means the Tigers will be taking their dog and pony show to the Big Dance stage this coming week. More power to 'em.

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Coach Candy Robinson said he realized his team was a "pretty good ball club" after they gave Texas a good run of it back during a 7-4 loss in early April. It was still a rough ride for TSU most of the season, as the 16-32 record indicates. But now, the maroons have a six-game win streak going and visions of another first round upset, like the one they pulled vs. No. 6 Rice back in 2004. I can't wait to find out what happens.

Now to the rest of the Saturday happenings.

THREE UP AND THREE DOWN---

Let's start with a FOURTEEN UP, instead of the usual measly THREE.

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MORE TUX FITTINGS FOR THE BIG DANCE---
Starting at the top of Jeremy Mills' website:

- Stony Brook (34-24).
The Seawolves beat the top-seed Binghamton 6-0 to earn their second AmEast title in five years. This is also their second 30-win season in a row. Expect coach Matt Senk to get more big-time offers in the off-season. Ironically, the Wolves went 6-0 vs. the Bearcats this season. Mike Errigo threw a complete-game five-hitter in today's win.

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(The rather fluid America East always seems to give us a new champion. But this marks the Seawolves' second title team in five years)

- Charlotte (43-14)
beat Xavier 4-3 in 10 innings.
For the second year in a row the 49ers make the NCAAs as the A-10 tournament champs. They shared the regular season A-10 title with the Musketeers, but ended up getting today's win with the help of an XU error in the 11th.

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(Charlotte had to split the regular season title, but this trophy won't have to be shared)

- Michigan (45-12)
beat Purdue 3-2.
The Wolverines should get thank you cards from the last five teams that get into the NCAA tournament for this one. Although, to be honest, I think Purdue could've made a good showing in the Big Dance, just like Minnesota and Ohio State did last year. But with this sweep of the field, UMich has locked up a home regional, and will then hope to take the traveling show another step further this post-season.

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(Don't you figure commissioner Jim Delaney and the suits would've liked to have seen Purdue pull the upset so the Big 10 could get two teams into the Big Dance?)

- Louisville (41-19)
beat Cincinatti 6-3.
Despite this being their first-ever Big East tourney title, this will be the 'Ville's second straight visit to the NCAA tournament after coming in as the No. 4 seed in the Big East tournament. This may be a team nobody wants to play as the Big Red are 25-6 since mid-March. Five frosh dot the starting lineup, meaning it could be a tough road for Coach McDonnell to bring the Cards back to Omaha.

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(The Ville punches its ticket. As a No. 4 seed in the Big East, this was the Cards' only chance at extending their season, but came through huge. Is another run to Omaha in the cards? They've got some moxie to them, so don't bet against it.)

- Coastal Carolina (47-12)
Beat Liberty 9-2.
For the ninth time and second straight year the Chanticleers win the Big South tourney and, with an RPI at No. 7, are in good shape to host a regional (or at least gain a No. 1 seed on the road). Tyler Bortnick earned the tourney MVP going 9-for-18 with eight RBI and two dongs on the week.

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(Coastal hopes to be showcasing another trophy with a home regional. To legitimize this program, seems like the Chanticleers need to prove they can make it to at least the Super Regional round.)

- James Madison (38-17)
beat Towson 6-1.
I'm glad to see the Dukes make the NCAAs. I know their RPI is way down in the 65-67 range, but again, this is one of those teams that goes on the road for most of the early part of the season and has an ugly start. Today, Kurt Houck pitched a complete-game four-hitter to give JMU its first title in 23 years.

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(Strange. The year after Kellen Kulbacki leaves for pro ball, the Dukes make it to the NCAAs. Strong work.)

- Rider (29-26)
split with Siena, but won the MAAC title with game two's 12-5 rout.
The Broncos really blew game one, a 9-8 10-inning loss that saw them blow leads in both the 9th and 10th innings. But game two was much better, as they scored nine runs in the 5th-6th-and-7th innings combined. From 1984 to 1996, the Broncos competed in nine NCAA tournaments. This will be their first trip back since then.

(Sorry, I don't have a picture for the Broncos. Just imagine a team in red surrounding a trophy with index fingers in the air.)

- Eastern Michigan (25-32)
beat Kent State 12-4 at KSU.
The Hurons, er... sorry, I mean, the Eagles become yet another team that will go into the NCAA tournament with a losing record. My guess? Yep, they're headed eight miles away to play in the regionals in Ann Arbor. EMU scored early and often, blasting out 17 hits and getting the help of five Flashes errors to cruise to the win.

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(Right now EMU is channeling the spirit of Ron Oestrike and hoping it can guide the team to its first trip to Omaha since 1976. A stretch, yes I know. But we're talking the Huron-power of Ron Oestrike here people.)

- Oral Roberts (46-12)
beat Southern Utah 9-0.
This was as exciting as a funeral procession. Which is just what all those bubble teams were hoping for. With the win, the Eagles win their 11th straight conference tournament which is the third longest in NCAA baseball history. Jerry Sullivan tossed a complete game five-hitter with 12 Ks and Brian Van Kirk was named the tourney MVP.

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(Talk about teams that haven't been to Omaha since the 70s, how cool would it be to see Brian Van Kirk and the boys pull up in a bus in front of Rosenblatt?)

- Wichita State (44-15).
beat Missouri State 12-10.
The Shocker bats never quit hammering this week at Eck Stadium. WSU scores 44 runs in three games, taking down the Bears twice and Southern Illinois once. But give the Bears a fair shot at making the NCAA field, with a 40-17 mark and an RPI in the mid-50s as of last week. At least they should make it. Although close losses to Arkansas and Oklahoma State may come back to haunt them.

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(The Shockers don't get too geeked about winning a conference tournament. Gene Stephenson's charges usually have bigger fish to fry. Let's just hope there's no UC Irvine in their draw this year.)

- TCU (43-17)
Beat New Mexico 15-2
For the second day in a row, the Frogs prove why they are the best team in the Mountain West by routing the Lobos. Granted, they lost to UNM on Thursday, marking their first MWC tourney loss This marks the third straight MWC tournament title for the Purple Pitcher Eaters. OF Clint Arnold has simply been a man among boys, going 6-for-6 with 5RBI in today's tilt.

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(While we're on the subject of anti-celebrations, this is about as animated as it got after the Horned Frogs won the Mountain West title. TCU is a team dead-set on bigger celebrations. Either that, or they're more reserved than a mortuary caretaker.)

- Mount St. Mary's (21-32)
beat top-seed Monmouth twice, 8-3 and 14-2.
The Mount scores four straight wins in a 26-hour period to advance to its first-ever NCAA tournament. The 4th-seeded Mountaineers went on elimination watch after dropping the first game of the tournament to Monmouth on Thursday. Beginning at 4:15 yesterday, the Mount beat Wagner (5-1), Central Connecticut (6-2) and then the two games today. Unreal.

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(After their whirlwind four-game spree, I'm surprised the Mountaineers had enough energy left to have a mid-field celebration like this.)

- Eastern Illinois (27-28).
Beat Southeast Missouri 7-4.
For the first time in the new millenium, Eastern will be going to the NCAA tournament. Jordan Tokarz had a trio of doubles and seven RBI on the day. Coach Jim Schmitz would say about his teams' four-day sweep of the field, "It's amazing how well we played. There were no fluke wins." EIU became the lowest seeded team (4th seed) since Murray State in 2003 to win the OVC.

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(No Jessica Simpson hex for Tony Romo U. this weekend as they blitzed through the Ohio Valley field and then did the mid-field flying circus act. To which I say, beauty.)

- Sam Houston State (36-23)
Pasted Lamar 15-7 to win the SLC for the second straight year. Last year, the Bearkats made it to the regional finals before losing at Ole Miss, so they've got a tough act to follow this season. Dallas Gallant, who picked up the opening round win over Northwestern State, earned his second win of the week with two innings of relief work.

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(Mark Johnson keeps working his magic in Huntsville as the Bearkats earn their second trip to the NCAAs in two tries under the legendary skipper.)


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THREE DOWN---
1- Cal.
Was shut out by UCLA for the second straight day, 7-0.
The Bears are a lock for the NCAA tournament, but now have lost four straight games and 5-9 since April 22nd. The two losses to the up-and-coming Bruins has come by a combined 15-0 mark. The Bears, who share the same fight song with UCLA, have managed just eight hits so far in this series.

2- Purdue.
Lost the Big 10 championship title to Michigan.
The Boilers finish at 32-26 and just outside of the NCAA bubble, costing the Big 10 its only chance at having a second team in the field of 64. And personally, I thought PU was a few close games away from making it. Look, they went down to Waco in the first weekend of the season - having almost zero outside practices - and lost three straight 1-run games to Baylor. They also lost a pair of one-run white-knucklers at Kentucky. Oh well, maybe next year they'll actually pull out a W or two in those higher-profile games.

3- North Carolina.
For pitching to Buster Posey in the 9th inning with 1st base open, two men on and a two-run lead.
This is all self-explanatory, isn't it? It should be, 'coz sure enough Posey knocked in the two tying runs with a pinch-hit single. FSU ended up winning the game 9-6 in the end, which could cost UNC the overall No. 1 national seed.


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More champions will be crowned tomorrow. I've gotta catch some winks now.

G'night.

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Eric Sorenson Eric Sorenson
Eric Sorenson is CSTV.com's National Baseball Columnist, and also appears on CSTV as a baseball expert