RedHawks Ready For Regional

Updated 5/25/2000
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  • Arizona State Regional Information

    THE NCAA REGIONAL TOURNAMENT
    Miami (39-21, 16-12 MAC) makes its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1983 as the RedHawks travel to Tempe, Ariz., to compete in one of the 16 double-elimination NCAA Regionals. The RedHawks, who earned the Mid-American Conference's automatic berth by winning this past weekend's league tourney, face the top-seeded Arizona State Sun Devils at 7 p.m. MST (10 p.m. EDT) Friday, May 26 at ASU's Packard Stadium.

    Arizona State (42-13, 17-7 Pacific-10), a perennial NCAA power and five-time national champion, is seeded seventh nationally among the 64 teams and captured an automatic bid after winning a three-way tie for the Pacific-10 title along with UCLA and Stanford. Creighton (38-21) and Texas (40-18) are the two other participants in the Regional Tournament and will compete prior to Miami's Friday game.

    Miami, which fell one victory shy of advancing to the College World Series in 1977, has a 5-10 overall record in five previous NCAA Tournament appearances (1973, 1974, 1977, 1979 and 1983). The RedHawks are the only tourney representative from the state of Ohio, and the lone representative from a four-state area that includes Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.

    Coached by Tracy Smith, Miami is led by two of the best juniors in the MAC in John Lackaff (Downers Grove, Ill./North) and Clark Mace (London, Ohio/Madison Plains).

    Mace leads the team in batting average at .362, following his 7-for-13 (.538) performance last week. Mace also paces the RedHawks in on-base percentage (.461), runs (59), triples (3), walks (36) and stolen bases (19). Mace needs two runs to break Miami's single-season record for runs, and he needs four hits to break Miami's all-time hits record. In MAC competition this year, Mace is batting .395, which is leading the team, and has eight HRs, 27 RBI and a whopping .767 slugging percentage.

    Lackaff is batting a career-high .357 overall, which is second on the team, and .361 in the MAC. Lackaff is tops on the team in slugging pct. (.648), hits (71), RBI (61), doubles (17) and total bases (129). On April 22, Lackaff knocked out a career-tying four hits and drove in one run and scored another as Miami defeated Bowling Green 12-2. In the RedHawks' 4-1 victory over Xavier (March 22), Lackaff smashed four hits and knocked in all four runs. He needs two RBI to break Miami's single-season record for RBI. Entering the tournament, Lackaff was leading the MAC in RBI.

    
                                     THE SKINNY
    
    		  MIAMI         ARIZONA STATE 	CREIGHTON    TEXAS
    
    Location          Oxford, Ohio  Tempe, Ariz.   	Omaha, Neb.  Austin, Texas
    Nickname          RedHawks      Sun Devils 	Bluejays     Longhorns
    Conference        MAC           Pac-10		MVC          Big 12
    Overall Record    39-21         42-13		38-21        40-18
    Conf Record       16-12         17-7		17-14        19-10
    NCAA Appearances  5             25		5            43
    Last NCAA App     1983          1998		1999         1999
    Tourney Record    5-10          75-50		9-10         158-83
    Finals Record     n/a           55-30		2-2          64-47
    National Titles   0             5		0            4
    

    MIAMI VS. THE TOURNAMENT FIELD: The RedHawks are a perfect 4-0 against teams they have faced in the 2000 NCAA Tournament. On March 15, Miami upset then-No. 22 Florida Atlantic 5-1 behind a 10-strikeout performance by Nate Tekavec (Concord, Ohio/Riverside). The RedHawks turned around the next day and defeated Rutgers, 6-4, behind Jeremy Ison's (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) 2-for-3, two-run, one-RBI performance. Miami also defeated Butler on March 21, 7-3, and again on April 25, 3-2.

    MIAMI VERSUS THE REGIONAL FIELD: When the RedHawks meet the Sun Devils, it marks the two schools' first meeting. The Red and White have faced Creighton only one time, in 1993, with Miami pulling out a 3-2 victory over the Bluejays at Pan American University. Miami never has faced the Longhorns.

    AMONG THE RANKS: Earlier in the season, Miami caught the eye of baseball voters. In the April 10 USA Today Baseball Weekly/ESPN Coaches Top 25 Poll, the RedHawks earned three votes. Miami posted wins over four other schools (Florida Atlantic, Rutgers, Central Michigan and Kent) who were either ranked or receiving votes, while losing also to Central Michigan, Kent and Kentucky, which also earned votes.

    IT'S BEEN A WHILE FOR MIAMI:
    Miami is making its sixth appearance in the NCAA Tournament but its first since 1983. The RedHawks, who fell one win shy of the College World Series in 1977, are 5-10 (.333) in their five prior appearances.

    LACKAFF LEADS MIAMI TO TITLE:
    One of the deciding factors to Miami winning the MAC Tournament title in four straight games was the play of RedHawk junior John Lackaff. A first-team all-MAC selection this year, Lackaff led Miami with a .533 average (8-for-15) during the tourney and was named the MVP. Lackaff, who tops the league charts in RBIs (66), drove in five runs during the tourney and also tied a tournament record with seven runs scored.

    THIRD TIME IS A CHARM FOR MIAMI:
    In winning its first title since 1983, Miami also snapped another drought that has occurred over the past couple of years. The RedHawks appeared in the title game for the third straight season. Last year, Miami came back after losing its opening game to Toledo and took Bowling Green to the final game before losing 7-6. The year prior, the RedHawks entered the championship game with the Falcons with an unblemished mark, only to drop a pair of games to Bowling Green.

    THE MAC IS LOOKING FOR A VICTORY:
    The Mid-American Conference is winless in its last nine NCAA games and have lost 15 of 16. The last league team to capture a win in the tournament was Central Michigan in 1995, when it defeated Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe), 14-11.

    TWO-TIME CHAMPION ABSENT:
    Two-time defending MAC Tournament champion Bowling Green was not among the six teams to qualify for this year's tournament. The Falcons, who finished 14-12 in league action, dropped 11 of their last 15 MAC contests. Seven of Bowling Green's 12 conference losses came on the oppositions last at-bat.

    ANOTHER TITLE FOR KENT STATE:
    Kent State won its sixth MAC regular season title on May 14, and the schools first since 1996. The Golden Flashes, who claimed their first-ever East Division crown, will host the league's postseason tournament for the fifth time, and the first since 1996. Also, Central Michigan won a share of a regular season title for the first time since 1993, sharing it with Ball State, which has had a part of the West Division title since divisions were formed in 1998.

    HOSTEST WITH THE MOSTEST?:
    In the 11 MAC Baseball Tournaments (12, if one counts a neutral site in 1982), the home team has claimed the tournament title only four times. In 1997 and 1998, Ohio and Bowling Green each won the title on its home field, while Kent State won back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993. In fact, the host has failed to make it to the title game in four out of the last six years, including the last two seasons.

    BECHARD REACHES ANOTHER MARK:
    Kent State senior Jess Bechard added yet another record to his growing list on the final day of the regular season. Bechard became the first player in league history to register 300 career hits when he belted a solo home run in Kent State's 6-4 come-from-behind win on May 14. The second baseman, who finished his career with 304 career safeties, already holds school and conference records for runs scored, doubles, total bases and at-bats.

    TOUGH 1-2 PUNCH FOR THE REDHAWKS:
    The Miami pitching staff, in particular junior Nate Tekavec and freshman Chris Leonard, stymied opposing hitters this season en route to the MAC tournament title and a trip to the NCAAs. Tekavec is tied for the league lead in wins (9) and has tossed 10 complete games, while Leonard is tied for first in ERA (2.69) and has a 6-1 record. Both hurlers have displayed great control on the mound as the two have combined for 45 walks in 163 innings of work.

    WHAT A TURNAROUND FOR NIU:
    Northern Illinois head coach Dave Schrage orchestrated one of the most incredible turnarounds in league history. The Huskies, who were picked to finish sixth in the West Division, placed third in the regular season with an 11-15 mark, 10 more league wins than last year. Overall, NIU won 24 games, compared to four in 1999.

    MORE MAC TOURNEY BITS:
    Kent State made its league-high eighth MAC Tournament appearance, and its seventh straight. Central Michigan appeared in the tournament after a two-year hiatus, while Ohio was in for the first time since winning the 1997 championship.

    MILESTONE FOR SMITH AND MIAMI:
    Miami, the runner-up in each of the last two MAC Tournaments, has posted 39 wins this season, the most since the RedHawks won a school-record 45 games in 1977. The win output is also the most under head coach Tracy Smith's direction as skipper of the RedHawks. The 39 victories in 2000 are the third most in one season in Miami history.

    THE NUMBERS GAME AT CMU:
    Central Michigan posted its 40th win of the season on May 13, marking the first time the program has netted 40 or victories since a 41-19 ledger in 1995. Earlier in the week, CMU head coach Judd Folske won his 300th career game.

    FOUR MAC PLAYERS HONORED:
    Four MAC baseball players were among 11 student-athletes named to the GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-District IV Team May 11. Capturing the academic honors were Miami's Nate Tekavec (3.29 GPA), Western Michigan's Joe Seestadt (3.25) and Central Michigan's Scott Pieratt (3.50) and Jake Sanborn (3.52). The four players are now eligible to garner GTE Academic All-America status, which will be announced on June 6.

    GETTING THE JOB DONE IN MAC PLAY:
    While it's hard to overlook the fact that Marshall has three of the league's top home run hitters in Marty Rini (20), Jason Brooks (16) and Eric Pinkerton (12), many probably couldn't answer the following question. Who led the Thundering Herd in batting in league only games? The answer: junior Jason Ricceri at .414, which is tied for third in the league. Ricceri hit six home runs during the season, all of them coming in MAC play. When Marshall began league action, Ricceri was hitting .167, and he used his league play to elevate his overall average at .305.

    THE KYES TO OHIO'S SUCCESS:
    Ohio junior Ryan Kyes equaled or broke all of his previous single season offensive marks, and was one of the reasons the Bobcats were back in the MAC Tournament for the first time since 1997. Kyes is tops in the league in hits (82), is fourth in batting (.390) and in runs scored (56).

    BULLISH IN HIS FIRST YEAR:
    Ball State's Bryan Bullington, in only his first year as a collegiate pitcher, has quickly become one of the league's future stars. The freshman is tied for the MAC lead in wins (9) and is first in strikeouts (99), both of which lead all freshman hurlers. In addition, he is sixth in ERA (3.68) and hitters are batting .212 off of him. In league only contests, he was 5-2 with a 3.35 ERA and fanned 49 batters in 45.2 innings.

    PRESEASON POLL REVISITED:
    Below is a comparison of the league's preseason poll, which was released back in February, in relation to where the teams finished at the end of the regular season.

    East Division	Pick	+/-
    Kent		3rd	+2
    Ohio		4th	+2
    Miami		1st	-2
    Bowling Green	2nd	-2
    Akron		5th	even
    Marshall	6th	even
    
    West Division	Pick	+/-
    C. Michigan	3rd	+2
    Ball State	1st	even
    N. Illinois	6th	+3
    W. Michigan	2nd	-2
    E. Michigan	5th	even
    Toledo		4th	-2