Pirates closing in on NCAA Tournament bid
One series against St. John’s is all that remains for the Seton Hall baseball team before heading to the Big East Championships and a possible NCAA Regional appearance.
Winning the Big East Championship would give the Pirates an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament but the Hall may have already done enough to earn an at-large bid with a 34-16 record, including 13 straight W’s.
“I feel really good about their chances,” Baseball America’s college baseball writer Aaron Fitt said. “It is really incredible what they have been able to do after the 0-9 start.”
In Fitt’s latest “College Stock Report,” which projects the 64 team tournament field, he moved the Pirates to “safely in” after sweeping then No. 20 South Florida last weekend. The only thing that Fitt believes the Hall needs to do is “just avoid falling on their face.”
The Pirates are doing all of this after starting the season with nine straight losses. While all those games occurred in non-conference play, it would seem their at-large tournament chances would be gone but since the slow start the team has won 34 of 41 games.
“By now that 0-9 start is completely erased,” Fitt said. “The fact they turned their season around with the sweep against Pepperdine on the road speaks to their resilience. The way they scheduled was very advantageous.
The schedule that is helping the Hall’s cause includes road series against No. 2 North Carolina, East Tennessee State, San Diego State and Pepperdine.
“The committee really likes a team that plays a good non-conference schedule and gives a little bit of extra credit to northern teams,” Fitt said. “It is hard when you are on the road early in the year against those warm weather teams.”
If the Pirates do hear their name called when the brackets are announced, it will be first time since 2000 and 2001 that the program made two tournaments in a three year span, after making it in 2011.
Fitt sees the Hall earning a two or three seed in a region but does not think they will be an easy out.
“They are dangerous,” Fitt said. “One thing you look for in a team that is capable of making a run is; are they old? Do they have veterans, especially up the middle, and Seton Hall has four up the middle. This team is experienced, have played well at regionals before and Jon Prosinski is probably one of the best big game pitchers in college baseball. If they can keep this going, they can give somebody a run for their money in a regional.”
Besides the NCAA Tournament implications, the Pirates enter the series against St. John’s with an outside chance of winning a share of the Big East regular season title.
Sitting two games back of Pittsburgh and one back of Louisville, the Pirates need to sweep the Red Storm and have the Cardinals take two of three from the Panthers at home to make it a three way tie for first, any other scenario and the Hall falls short.
The three game series against St. John’s at Owen T. Carroll Field starts on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. with Friday’s game starting at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday’s at 1:00 p.m.
Stephen Valenti can be reached at Stephen.email@example.com