The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Friday, June 6, 2008
By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor
Veteran skipper Gary Gilmore is leading Coastal Carolina University's baseball team into a new frontier this weekend.
The Franklin County native has Coastal Carolina in the Super Regionals of the NCAA Division I Baseball tournament for this first time.
To get to Omaha, site of the annual College World Series, the Chanticleers will have to eliminate the University of North Carolina, the national runner-up in 2006 and 2007, in the Cary (N.C.) Super Regional, which begins Saturday at noon.
There are eight Super Regionals each of which is a best 2 of 3 games series.
The eight winners advance to the College World Series.
North Carolina is managed by Mike Fox, the Tar Heels' head coach since the late 1990s.
Local college baseball fans will remember Fox from his tenure as the skipper of the North Carolina Wesleyan College Bishops of the NCAA Division III USA South Athletic Conference.
Fox guided the Bishops to the national championship in 1989, Ferrum College's first year as a member of the league.
The Panthers qualified for NCAA Division III regional play for the second time in school history that year.
Ferrum, guided by retired head coach Abe Naff, and N.C. Wesleyan did play play in the same regional that year. The Panthers lost to Johns Hopkins University in the finals of the South Regional.
Gilmore took University of South Carolina-Aiken to both the NAIA and NCAA Division II College World Series when he was the skipper there.
This is the furthest he has guided his alma mater in the Division I nationals, however.
The Chanticleers, who earned the Big South Conference's automatic berth by capturing the league's postseason tournament in Danville last month, won the Conway (S.C.) Regional last Sunday by defeating East Carolina, 24-11in the championship game.
Alabama and Columbia also competed in the Conway Regional and the Chanticleers, the top seed, bested both of those schools en route to the title.
Coastal Carolina had failed advance to the Super Regionals in its previous seven NCAA tournament appearances.
Gilmore addressed that point in a press conference prior to the Conway Regional.
"In the last eight years, we're the sixth-winningest program in the United States,' Gilmore said in a story published in the Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Sun. "Until we win one of these (regionals) it's all a waste of time. That's just kind of how we feel about it.'
North Carolina advanced to the Super Regional by defeating UNC Wilmington, 11-4, in the Cary Regional final Sunday.
Earlier this season, Coastal defeated North Carolina in Cary, 11-4.
Saturday's series opener marks the first time that the two teams have played in postseason since 2004 when the Tar Heels rallied for a 6-5 victory in the Columbia (S.C.) Regional.
Coastal Carolina brings a 50-12 record into the series; North Carolina is 49-12.
Game two of the set is Sunday at 1 p.m. Monday's "if necessary' contest will be played at either 12:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.
Saturday's contest will be televised on ESPNU; the Sunday game will be shown on ESPN.
Either ESPN or ESPN2 will televise the "if necessary' game.
Joining Coastal Carolina and North Carolina in this round of the playoffs are North Carolina State, Georgia, Arizona, Miami, Wichita State, Florida State, UC-Irvine, LSU, Texas A&M, Rice, Fresno State, Arizona State, Stanford and Cal State- Fullerton.