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The Journal Gazette

Monday, May 28, 2018 9:10 pm

IU, Purdue make NCAA baseball tournament

Indiana and Purdue were among the 64 teams in the NCAA Baseball Tournament when the field was announced Monday. Both earned No. 2 seeds in their respective regionals and join Ohio State and Minnesota as Big Ten teams in the field.

Purdue (37-19) is the second seed in the Chapel Hill Regional and will play No. 3 seed Houston at 7 p.m. Friday in the opening round. The Cougars and Boilermakers are joined in the regional by North Carolina and North Carolina A&T. The Tar Heels (38-18) are the No. 6 national seed.

The Hoosiers (38-17) are in the Austin Regional with three Texas teams, including No. 13 national seed Texas (37-20). Indiana will first face third-seeded Texas A&M at 5 p.m. Friday before contending with either the Longhorns or Texas Southern.

The NCAA Tournament has been a familiar setting for the Hoosiers in recent years. Since 2008, they have made the field six times after doing so just twice previously in the history of the program. In that span, Indiana leads the Big Ten in wins, conference wins and tournament appearances.

The last three of those trips to the tournament have come under coach Chris Lemonis, tying him with predecessor Tracy Smith for the most NCAA appearances by an IU head coach. Lemonis is the first Indiana coach ever to make three appearances in his first four years at the helm.

By contrast, Purdue's at-large bid to the tournament is just the third bid the Boilermakers have received in program history and the first since 2012. The Boilers' 37 wins this season are already the second-most in school history, but they're still eight short of the 45 the 2012 team compiled while winning both the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles.

The Boilermakers have been one of the hottest teams in the country over the last five weeks, going 21-3 since April 20, including a 13-game winning streak. The third of those three losses came in the Big Ten Tournament title game, a 6-4 defeat against No. 11 Minnesota, which also captured the conference regular season crown. The Golden Gophers are the top-seeded Big Ten team in the NCAA Tournament, earning a No. 1 seed and the No. 14 overall spot.

The Boilermakers' tournament invite continues a year-long run of success across multiple sports. Purdue is one of only 12 teams to earn bids to the NCAA Tournament in both baseball and men's basketball and also play in a bowl game in football. Ohio State is the only Big Ten team to match the trifecta.

The Big Ten's four teams in the tournament this year were tied for the fourth-most of any conference, surpassed only by the mighty SEC, which equaled a record with 10 teams, the ACC's six entries and the Big 12's five. Defending champion Florida is the tournament's top overall seed.

dsinn@jg.net