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USC Feels at Home in Regional

May 18, 1999|GARY KLEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Defending national baseball champion USC finished second in the Pacific 10 Conference, but the Trojans earned the chance to begin their quest for a second consecutive College World Series championship in familiar surroundings.

USC's Dedeaux Field was selected Monday as one of 16 regional sites for the 64-team NCAA playoffs--expanded from 48 teams--that begin May 28. It's the first time since 1991 that USC--or any Southland school--has been picked to host a Division I regional.

Winners of the four-team double-elimination regionals will play in eight best-of-three super regionals June 4-6. Super-regional winners advance to Omaha for the College World Series June 11-19.

"We're happy because we'll be on our home field, we believe we're going to get good weather and we don't have to worry about another home team's fans," said USC Coach Mike Gillespie, whose team finished the regular season 33-23 and is ranked 14th by Baseball America. "But I'm certain we're going to have some very good teams in this regional."

Fourth-ranked Stanford (41-13), the Pac-10 champion, was also among the schools selected to host regionals, based on a Ratings Percentage Index--which factors a team's and its opponents' records--conference finish and financial guarantee.

Four Southeastern Conference schools--No. 10 Arkansas (37-19), No. 11 Alabama (42-14), No. 15 Auburn (41-14) and No. 17 Louisiana State (36-19)--were selected. Others include: top-ranked Texas A&M (44-12), No. 7 Baylor (43-12) and No. 18 Texas Tech (40-13) of the Big 12; No. 3 Florida State (46-10) and No. 19 Wake Forest (39-13) of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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