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Baseball: Regional Opening Wednesday


baseball field wide angle WEB.jpg

landers_wheatonhal72dpi.jpgFor the sixth time in 15 years, the Eastern Baseball Stadium will host an NCAA Division III regional baseball tournament when the Mansfield, Conn. Regional Tournament kicks off with four games Wednesday. Top-seeded Wheaton College, MA headlines the field and will face No. 8 seed Bridgewater State University at 1:15 p.m. in the second of four games on the first day of the eight-team, double-elimination tournament which runs through either Saturday or Sunday.  Six New England conferences are represented in the regional: the Commonwealth Coast Conference (Western New England University), New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (Wheaton), Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (Bridgewater State), Great Northeast Athletic Conference (Saint Joseph's College of Maine), Little East Conference (University of Southern Maine and Keene State College) and New England Small College Athletic Conference (Bowdoin College and Trinity College).Six of the eight qualified automatically as their respective conference tournament champions, with Keene State and Bowdoin gaining at-large  selections to the 56-team field. The six teams have combined for 65 years of tournament experience and a 150-133 tournament record heading into 2012, led by Southern Maine (19th appearance), Bridgewater State (14th) and Wheaton (11th). All eight have made at least one NCAA tournament appearance and two (Southern Maine in 1991 and 1997) and Trinity (2008) have claimed national titles. In previous national tournaments, Wheaton has reached the national championship round and Bridgewater has taken home one third-place finish.The last team in this field to win at Mansfield was Trinity in 2009, while Bridgewater was second here in 2003 and 2004. Defending national champion Marietta College is the No. 1 seed in a regional which it will host in Marietta, OH. This week's eight regional winners  throoughout the country advance to the national tournament May 25-29 at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute, WI.

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