RICHMOND, Va. (May 22, 2012) - The 2012 Virginia 529 CAA Baseball Championship will be held May 23-26 at Veterans Memorial Park in Harrisonburg, Va. and features a new site, an expanded tournament field and a different format. The winner of the championship will receive an automatic berth to next week's NCAA Baseball Championship.
All-session tickets are $35 (chairback reserved), $25 (adult general admission), and $15 (senior citizen, youth, veterans general admission). Single-day tickets are $15 (chairback reserved), $10 (adult general admission) and $5 (senior citizen, youth, veterans general admission). Students from participating institutions are admitted free with a valid student ID.
For those not able to attend in person, all games will be video-streamed for free on CAASports.com. Live stats will also be available along with game stories, box scores and audio/video recaps.
After being held at Brooks Field in Wilmington, N.C., for the past eight years, the CAA Baseball Championship moves to 1,200-seat Veterans Memorial Park in Harrisonburg for the first time. The facility opened in 2010 and features a FieldTurf surface.
Six teams will once again battle for the conference title after the tournament field was reduced to four in 2010 and 2011. However, a new format has been instituted with the top two seeds receiving first-round byes.
The double-elimination tournament gets underway at Noon on Wednesday when #4 George Mason (33-22, 16-14 in CAA) faces #5 VCU (32-23, 15-15 in CAA), followed by #3 Delaware (27-25, 17-13 in CAA) against #6 Towson (26-29, 15-15 in CAA) at 3:30 p.m. The losers of the first two games will meet in an elimination game at 7 p.m.
At Noon on Thursday, #1 UNCW (35-20, 24-6 in CAA) takes on the Mason/VCU winner, followed by #2 Hofstra (33-20, 20-10 in CAA) versus the Delaware/Towson winner at 3:30 p.m. Another elimination contest will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday. There are three games on Friday, setting the stage for the championship game at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
UNCW captured the CAA regular-season title by four games and will be looking to win its third conference championship. The Seahawks have five starters batting better than .300, led by senior outfielders Thomas Pope (.374, 39 RBI's) and Andrew Cain (.316, 9 HR, 38 RBI's) and junior first baseman Hunter Ridge (.329, 40 RBI's). UNCW also has strong pitching with senior Tyler McSwain (8-3, 3.17 ERA) and sophomore Mat Batts (5-4, 2.65 ERA) leading the starting rotation and sophomores Ricky Holden (3-0, 4 svs., 1.43 ERA) and Kelly Secrest (4-2, 1.97 ERA) anchoring the bullpen.
Hofstra, which set a school record for wins this season, is making just its second appearance in the CAA Baseball Championship and first since 2005. The Pride has the nation's 2nd-best team batting average (.336) and ranks second in Division I in stolen bases (148) and fourth in runs scored (431). Topping the offense are senior outfielder Danny Poma (.435, 7 HR, 47 RBI's), junior first baseman Jared Hammer (.383, 4 HR, 64 RBI's) and junior second baseman Matt Ford (.379, 46 RBI's). Hofstra's top pitcher is junior John Tiedemann, who is 7-4 with a 4.83 ERA.
Delaware is making its sixth CAA Tournament appearance and has reached the championship game twice. The Blue Hens are paced offensively bu junior designated hitter Alex Maruri (.344, 21 RBI's), sophomore first baseman Jimmy Yezzo (.329, 35 RBI's) and junior outfielder Nick Ferdinand (.301, 39 RBI's). The top starter for the Delaware pitching staff is senior Corey Crispell, who is 6-4 with a 3.75 ERA. The Hens have a pair of impressive closers in senior Devon Pearson (4-1, 6 saves, 1.61 ERA) and junior Stephen Richter (1-1, 8 saves, 3.13 ERA).
George Mason is back in the tournament for the first time since 2009 and is looking to win the CAA title for the third time. The Patriots' offense is led by a trio of senior standouts in infielder Brig Tison (.368, 34 RBI's), outfielder Dan Schafferman (.338, 39 RBI's) and designated hitter Zack Helgeson (.284, 12 HR, 43 RBI's). Mason's pitching staff has been solid behind starters Ryan Pfaeffle (5-5, 3.54 ERA) and Anthony Montefusco (4-3, 3.57 ERA) and the league's top closer in junior Chris O'Grady (2-0, 14 saves, 0.50 ERA).
VCU has captured a league-high five CAA championships over the past decade. The Rams' top offensive threats are sophomore third baseman Joey Cujas (.379, 45 RBI's) and sophomore outfielder Bill Cullen (.353, 25 2B, 9 3B, 37 RBI's). On the mound, junior Ryan Farrar (4-3, 3.59 ERA) and senior Seth Cutler-Voltz (6-3, 4.04 ERA) have been the team's top starters, while junior Blake Hauser (5-2, 10 saves, 3.38 ERA) has been one of the CAA's most dominant closers.
Towson closed the regular season with a three-game sweep of James Madison to claim the final spot in the tournament. The Tigers have reached the championship game in two of their past three appearances. Pacing Towson offensively are sophomore Zach Fisher (.315, 21 RBI's) and freshman Brendan Butler (.300, 33 RBI's). Junior Michael Trionfo (10-3, 3.24 ERA) tops the CAA in wins and anchors the starting pitching staff. Senior Tyler Austin (2-4, 6 saves) is the Tigers' closer.
2012 Virginia 529 CAA BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Veterans Memorial Park - Harrisonburg, Va.
Wednesday, May 23
Game 1 - #4 George Mason vs. #5 VCU - Noon
Game 2 - #3 Delaware vs. #6 Towson - 3:30 pm
Game 3 - Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2 - 7 pm
Thursday, May 24
Game 4 - #1 UNCW vs. Mason/VCU winner - Noon
Game 5 - #2 Hofstra vs. Delaware/Towson winner - 3:30 pm
Game 6 - Game 3 winner vs. Lowest Seeded Game 4/5 loser - 7 pm
Friday May 25
Game 7 - Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 5 - Noon
Game 8 - Winner of Game 6 vs. Highest Seeded Game 4/5 loser - 3:30 pm
Game 9 - Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 winner - 7 pm
Saturday, May 28
Game 10 - Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 9 - 1 pm
Game 11 (if necessary) - Same two teams, 30 minutes after Game 10