RUTHERFORD, N.J. – With a 33-13 overall won-lost record, the Felician University baseball team has earned at at-large berth and the No. 5 seed for the upcoming NCAA Division II East Regional Championship tournament.
Guided by 14th-year head coach Chris Langan, Felician is making its third NCAA Regional appearance. The Golden Falcons will compete in first-round action this Thursday, May 18, at 7 p.m., when they take on No. 4 seed LIU Post (30-18) at Penmen Field on the campus of Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H.
Southern New Hampshire is the event's No. 1 seed and host. Directions are available at www.snhu.edu/student-experience/regional-center-experience/manchester-nh.
Felician was one of four teams in the East Region, and 33 nationwide selected by the NCAA D-II Baseball Committee for an at-large invitation to the tournament. The Golden Falcons enter the Regional with the longest layoff of the seven teams, having not played since losing a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament play-in on May 7.
"It will be good to get back on the field," said catcher Matt Kleinstein (Marlboro, N.J./Colts Neck), a two-time all-CACC performer and one of 13 Felician seniors. "We would have rather been playing for a conference championship, but we made good use of the break to rest our bodies. We are ready to get back and compete."
The Regional tournament is a seven-team, double-elimination affair. It opens on Thursday with all but SNHU in action. No. 3 seed St. Thomas Aquinas College and No. 6 seed Southern Connecticut State University begin the tournament with an 11 a.m. contest. No. 7 Dominican (N.Y.) College meets No. 2 University of New Haven at 3 p.m., and the first round concludes with the Felician-LIU Post contest.
The tournament homepage is http://snhupenmen.com/sports/bsb/2016-17/NCAAEastRegional.
With a win on Thursday, Felician would play on Friday at 3 p.m. against Southern New Hampshire. Should the Golden Falcons fall, they would be off until Saturday, when they would play a 3 p.m. elimination game. Play continues through the championship round on Monday.
Felician went 3-3 this season against the tournament field, including a loss to LIU Post on Feb. 24 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
"Our pitchers need to command the strike zone, stay ahead in counts, and let our fielders do what they do best," said junior pitcher/first baseman Jason Polgano (Bronx, N.Y./Cardinal Spellman), a 2016 All-American at the utility-pitcher position. "Offensively, we will have to stick to our approach and compete every at-bat."
Ticket prices for each day of competition are $7 for adults and $5 for children, students (with ID) and senior citizens. Children age two years and under will be admitted free. SNHU will also offer an online Live Stats feed (links posted daily at tournament home page) and free streaming video at www.snhupenmen.tv.
The winner of the 2017 NCAA Division II East Regional Baseball Championship advances to the 50th annual national finals, to be hosted May 27-June 3 by Angelo State University and Texas AirHogs Professional Baseball at The Ballpark at Grand Prairie in Grand Prairie, Texas.