ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Twenty-two years after it last hosted an NCAA baseball regional, the University of Michigan will again serve as a starting point for the road to Omaha, Neb., and the NCAA College World Series.
The NCAA announced Sunday evening (May 25) that Michigan's Wilpon Baseball Complex, home to Ray Fisher Stadium, has been selected as one of 16 regional sites for the 2008 NCAA Baseball Championship. The complete field for the 64-team national tournament will be revealed Monday (May 26) at 12:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN.
U-M will host a four-team, double-elimination regional Friday through Monday (May 30-June 2), with two games each of the first three days before the "if necessary" second championship game Monday. The 16 regional winners will advance to best-of-three super regionals that will start either Friday or Saturday, June 6-7, at eight campus sites.
The 16 regional host institutions and sites are: Arizona State (Tempe, Ariz.), Cal State Fullerton (Fullerton, Calif.), Coastal Carolina (Conway, S.C.), Florida State (Tallahassee, Fla.), Georgia (Athens, Ga.), Long Beach State (Long Beach, Calif.), Louisiana State (Baton Rouge, La.), Miami (Fla.) (Coral Gables, Fla.), Michigan (Ann Arbor, Mich.), Nebraska (Lincoln, Neb.), North Carolina (Cary, N.C.), North Carolina State (Raleigh, N.C.), Oklahoma State (Stillwater, Okla.), Rice (Houston, Texas), Stanford (Palo Alto, Calif.) and Texas A&M (College Station, Texas).
Michigan has played host to NCAA Regional action on seven previous occasions, most recently in 1986. U-M also hosted in 1953, '61, '78, '80, '81 and '83.
The Wolverines (45-12) claimed the Big Ten Tournament title and an automatic NCAA berth this weekend with three come-from-behind wins in three days at their home park, capturing the tournament crown for the second time in three years. Michigan set a Big Ten single-season record for regular-season conference wins by going 26-5 en route to its third straight Big Ten championship.
Michigan is in the NCAA field for the 21st time overall and will be making its fourth straight NCAA appearance. Last year the Wolverines defeated top-ranked Vanderbilt twice in Nashville, Tenn., on the way to winning their eighth regional championship. U-M lost twice at eventual national champion Oregon State in the super regional.
This is the inaugural season for the Wilpon Complex following a $9 million renovation to Michigan's baseball stadium, thanks in large part to Fred Wilpon, principal owner and CEO of the New York Mets, and his wife Judy.
Additions and improvements included a three-story addition with administrative offices, press box, two suites, improved public restrooms, concession areas and a ticket office, as well as a 1,600-square-foot locker room, 5,750-square-foot indoor hitting facility, and outdoor batting cages along the leftfield and rightfield lines.
REGIONAL SCHEDULE (Times TBA)
Friday, May 30
Game 1 -- #1 Seed vs. #4 Seed
Game 2 -- #2 Seed vs. #3 Seed
Saturday, May 31
Game 3 -- Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser
Game 4 -- Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner
Sunday, June 1
Game 5 -- Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser
Game 6 -- Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner
Monday, June 2
Game 7 (if necessary) -- Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Rich Maloney
On hosting an NCAA Regional... "I think it is a huge thing for our program. In order to make it to Omaha and the College World Series, it helps to be a host. Teams that get this opportunity have an increased chance of being one of those eight teams in Omaha. We built this facility with the idea of hosting a regional, so in a way this is a dream come true.
"It is a great thing for this ball club as well. We get so few opportunities to play in front of our home fans throughout the year because of the amount of travel we go through in the beginning of the season. This makes it extra special for our followers too."
On what this means to Northern baseball... "For college baseball I think it is important that they have Northern representation. We want to be a sport that is inclusive so everybody has a chance to win the national championship. For years, that hasn't been the case. Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction."
On playing at home this year... "It is extra special to play here in this new ballpark. We have been very successful at home this season, winning 21 of 23 games, and I think that has a lot to do with us feeling comfortable here. We have our brand new locker room. We have our offices. This is our park and we want to go out there every game with the idea that we do not lose at home."
Larry Templeton, NCAA Division I Baseball Committee Chair (from teleconference)
On Michigan hosting a regional... "They're the champions of the Big Ten Conference, and it gave us an opportunity to put a regional a little farther north than we have been able to do previously. Part of our charge is to have national balance with these sites. We're excited about the opportunity. We're excited about the improvements that Michigan has made with their ballpark."
On how much winning the conference tournament benefited Michigan... "It certainly helped. They were on the board, and fortunately they had won that tournament when we made the final decision. It was all part of the selection process. We had the advantage to know they won both the regular season and the tournament."
On Michigan being the only Northern host... "We were trying to find national balance, just as we are trying to find teams on the West Coast and up East. Them (the Wolverines) having won the Big Ten Conference with their record, and with some quality wins in the non-conference schedule, it made that decision a little more comfortable than in years gone by."
Contact: Gene Skidmore (734) 763-4423