San Antonio – The St. Mary’s baseball team arrived back on campus Monday to a heroes’ welcome fresh off winning the NCAA Division II South Central regional championship.
And shortly thereafter, the Rattlers learned more about the next phase of their national-championship chase.
St. Mary’s now knows its opponent in the first round of the College World Series, as the missing piece of the bracket was decided when Delta State beat Stillman in back-to-back games to capture the South Region title Monday afternoon.
The Rattlers will face Delta State at 4 p.m. (CDT) Sunday in the final game of the opening round at the USAB Training Complex in Cary, N.C. The World Series is a double-elimination tournament, with the winner-takes-all championship game being played at 6 p.m. (CDT) on June 2.
St. Mary’s captured the South Central Regional championship with a 12-9, come-from-behind victory over Central Missouri on Sunday, giving the Rattlers their second NCAA Division II regional crown. Their last came in 2001, when they won the national championship in their first year as an NCAA member.
And upon returning to campus Monday, the Rattlers’ St. Mary’s family gave them a rousing welcome-home celebration, as dozens of staff, faculty and friends gathered to greet the champs.
If you’re a fan of symmetry, consider this as St. Mary’s (48-9) embarks upon its latest national-championship chase: the Rattlers have played Delta State (46-13) just once before in their history, winning 17-4 back in the 2001 World Series in Montegomery, Ala., en route to winning the national title.
St. Mary’s enters this year’s iteration wearing a consider bull’s eye, having the distinction as being the highest-ranked team in virtually every national poll to qualify for the College World Series. The Rattlers are also the only team in the double-elimination tournament with single-digit losses.
They will play in Bracket 2, which also consists of Catawba (43-15) and Indianapolis (46-14). Bracket 1 features West Chester (42-10), Chico State (40-17), MSU-Mankato (48-10) and Southern New Hampshire (42-13). The winner of each bracket will face off in the national championship game.