VCU Richmond Baseball

VCU coach Shawn Stiffler, seen here reacting to a call in April, led his Rams to the A-10 regular season title but that wasn’t enough to earn a bid to the NCAA tourney.

A brutal final week of the season left VCU and Virginia on the outside looking in as the bracket was announced for this year’s NCAA baseball tournament.

VCU won the regular season title in the Atlantic 10, but the league is generally only given one bid in the NCAA tourney, which is awarded to the tournament champion. VCU was bounced after losing twice on its first day of competition. Fordham, which was hosting the tournament, claimed the automatic bid from the No. 4 seed.

For UVA, things were looking good late in the season, but three consecutive losses to end the year left the Cavaliers at 14-16 in ACC play. UVA lost its season finale to Virginia Tech, then lost twice at the conference tournament to get eliminated at the end of pool play.

The Cavaliers finish the season 32-24. Selection committee chairman Ray Tanner, South Carolina’s athletic director, said his group did not have UVA among the best four teams left off the bracket.

The lone state representative in this year’s tournament will be Liberty. The Flames won four straight to claw their way out of the loser’s bracket and take home the Atlantic Sun Conference title.

Liberty was given a No. 3 seed in the Chapel Hill region, and will face No. 2 Tennessee on Friday at 7 p.m. The other game that day will pit No. 1 North Carolina and No. 4 UNC Wilmington.

This is the Flames’ first conference title since 2013, and need just one victory to match the school record of 43 in a season.

Nationally, Pac-12 champion UCLA (47-8) was rewarded for its remarkable consistency No. 1 national seed — the Bruins won every series they played this season.

“We have a terrific conference. We believe it’s the No. 1 conference in the country from top to bottom,” UCLA coach John Savage said. “The competitiveness they were challenged with all season, we stepped up, and we definitely feel we’re prepared for the next part of the season.”

The 64-team tournament opens Friday in 16 regionals. Winners advance to eight best-of-three super regionals. Those winners move on to the College World Series in Omaha.

The selection committee sprung two surprises, picking Georgia Tech as the No. 3 national seed even though the Yellow Jackets didn’t win the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season or tournament titles and giving TCU an at-large bid even though the Horned Frogs are No. 59 in the RPI and finished below .500 in Big 12 play.

The first four out were Houston (32-24), Missouri (34-22-1), Texas State (36-20) Central Florida (36-22).

Florida State’s at-large bid comes in coach Mike Martin’s final season before he retires.

Martin, whose 2,023 wins are the most by any coach in any NCAA sport, has made it to the national tournament in all 40 of his seasons at the helm.

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