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COLLEGE BASEBALL

UCLA Extends Adams' Career Into a Regional

June 01, 2004|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Gary Adams can postpone his retirement for at least a few more days. The longtime UCLA baseball coach will be preparing his team for the postseason.

The Bruins were one of five local teams that earned berths to the NCAA tournament when the 64-team field was announced Monday. It is UCLA's first trip to a regional in four years.

"This might be the last time for me, but for every one of these players, this is their first time," said Adams, who is retiring after 30 seasons with the Bruins. "It's really great to have a final year like this."

Four-team regional play in a double-elimination format begins Friday at 16 sites and concludes Sunday. Each regional champion advances to one of eight super-regionals, which will determine the eight teams that play in the College World Series.

UCLA (33-27) was one of five Pacific 10 Conference teams selected. The Bruins play Oklahoma, the Big 12 Conference regular-season runner-up, in a regional at SBC Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

The state of Oklahoma has been kind to the Bruins. UCLA won a regional at the same park in 2000 and advanced to its only College World Series under Adams in 1997 by winning a regional at Stillwater.

"I told my team after our win at Oregon State on Sunday that I had a good feeling we were in," Adams said. "I really felt today was a matter of where and not if."

UC Irvine earned its first postseason berth as a Division I program and is in the playoffs only three years after restarting its program after a 10-year hiatus. The Anteaters were concerned that a 3-8 finish might leave them out of the field but a 34-21-1 record and RPI of 29 were impossible for the selection committee to ignore.

Irvine was seeded second in the regional at South Bend, Ind., and opens against Arizona, a team it defeated twice and tied against in a three-game series in February.

"We're just happy to be in the field of 64," Coach John Savage said. "It's just puts a stamp on UC Irvine baseball to show that we have arrived as a program."

Cal State Fullerton is a host for the fourth time in five years. The Titans (36-20) are seeded second and play Minnesota on Friday night. If Fullerton prevails, it could have a rematch with Arizona State in a winner's bracket game Saturday.

Fullerton defeated Arizona State in the a super-regional last season to advance to Omaha. The top-seeded Sun Devils, who were seeded No. 7 in the nation, play West Coast Conference champion Pepperdine in the first round.

Another rematch looms at Stanford, where Long Beach State was shipped as the second-seeded team. The 49ers (36-19), who open against St. John's, spent most of the season in the national top 10 before losing their last seven games.

Last season, the Cardinal defeated Long Beach in the a super-regional en route to a second-place finish in the College World Series.

"Obviously, we're disappointed because we lost any chance to host, but I don't think we're totally down," Long Beach Coach Mike Weathers said.

Texas was seeded No. 1 overall.

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