Utah Valley University makes the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance this week when the Wolverines travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to face No. 8 National seed LSU. UVU meets the SEC power and regional host Tigers on Friday at 2 p.m. CT, at Alex Box Stadium in a game that can be seen live on ESPN3.
The Wolverines (37-21) and Tigers (42-18) are joined in the Baton Rouge Regional by Rice (35-22) and Southeastern Louisiana (39-19). UVU has never faced any team participating in the regional or the three conferences the programs play out of — SEC, Conference USA and Southland.
Utah Valley earned the Western Athletic Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after going 4-0 in the WAC Tournament last weekend at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona. The Wolverines — who rank sixth in the country in double plays — are on a season-best seven-game winning streak.
Utah Valley defeated CSU Bakersfield (6-4) and New Mexico State (3-2) before consecutive wins over Seattle University by scores of 13-8 and 4-0 in the tournament championship.
Five players received All-Tournament honors led by Tournament MVP Craig Brinkerhoff, who leads UVU with 11 home runs. His double-digit total is the first time that a UVU player has hit 11 or more since All-American Goose Kallunki hit a school-record 18 in 2012.
Brinkerhoff batted .563 (9-for-16) in the tournament with one home run, one triple, six runs and three RBIs. He was 5-for-5 in UVU's come-from-behind semifinal win over Seattle U.
Joining him on the All-Tournament Team were Jordan Schlehuber, who batted .462 with five RBIs, and Mark Krueger, who had a pair of home runs and also drove in five runs. Two pitchers, Jackson Cofer and Kaden Schmitt, also were on the team. Cofer struck out a tournament-high eight batters while allowing just one run on eight hits in a win over New Mexico State. Schmitt pitched seven shutout innings in the championship-clinching, 4-0 win over Seattle U.
LSU is making its 29th NCAA Tournament appearance and its fifth straight as a Top 8 National seed. The Tigers have won 19 of the 23 regionals held at Alex Box Stadium and have made 17 College World Series appearances, winning six National Championships.
The Tigers went 19-11 in SEC play, finishing third in the SEC West, and are one of seven teams from the conference to be hosting a regional this weekend.
LSU has two common opponents as Utah Valley, including WAC partner Sacramento State. The Hornets won the middle game of a three game series at LSU in February. The other common opponent is Ball State, which UVU split two games with. LSU won two of three from BSU in March in Baton Rouge.
Clint Burgi is the associate athletic director for communications and marketing at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.