The 2023 college baseball season has been good to both the Auburn Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide as both teams earned two of the coveted 16 national seeds available meaning both teams will host a regional on campus beginning Friday, June 2 with the goal of eventually making it to Omaha, Neb. for the College World Series later this month.
At 40-19 on the season, Alabama earned the 16th and final national seed meaning the Crimson Tide will host a regional in Tuscaloosa for the first time since 2006. Whereas Auburn finished the season 34-21-1 and earned the 13th national seed making the Tigers a regional host in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history.
The regionals portion of the NCAA Division I baseball tournament is considered the first round where 64 teams are split into 16 different brackets called regionals. Regionals are a double-elimination bracket with four teams seeded 1-4. Because Alabama and Auburn are both hosting, they are given the one seed in their respective regionals.
With that being said, lets take a look at both regionals and the teams both Alabama and Auburn will see this weekend.
In the Tuscaloosa Regional, Alabama will host as the No. 1 seed followed by No. 2 seed Boston College, No. 3 seed Troy and No. 4 seed Nicholls.
The regional will begin with Boston College facing off against Troy on Friday, June 2 at 2 p.m. followed by Alabama taking on Nicholls at 6 p.m. to begin the double-elimination regional.
In game one, Boston College, who narrowly missed a shot at hosting a regional, comes in looking to prove they are one of the better teams in college baseball as they finished 35-18 overall and 16-14 in the ACC Conference and returns to the postseason for the first time since 2016. The Eagles will need to see solid production from first baseman Joe Vetrano who leads the team with 48 runs, 62 hits, 18 home runs and 55 RBIs on the season. In game one, the Eagles will pitch right hander John West who finished the season with a 5-3 record and recorded 63 strikeouts. Countering Boston College, Troy will pitch All-Sun Belt first team right hander Grayson Stewart who comes in with a 9-2 record. To have success in the regional, the Trojans will rely on their solid pitching staff that finished fifth nationally with 610 strikeouts. Troy is back in the postseason for the first time since 2018.
As for Alabama, the Crimson Tide will pitch right hander Luke Holman and Nicholls will throw freshman Jacob Mayers. Holman finished 2023 tied for a team-high seven wins and he limited SEC opponents to a .191 average which was good for the second-lowest mark among all conference pitchers. One nice advantage for Alabama will be playing in front of a home crowd at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Having not hosted a regional since 2006, the Crimson Tide faithful are sure to pack out “The Joe” to give the Crimson Tide a spark and home field advantage all weekend.
Alabama finished the regular season with an RPI of 11 while also playing its best baseball of the season under interim head coach Jason Jackson who helped lead the Tide to 16 regular season SEC wins for the first time since 2009. In addition to getting solid pitching, Alabama will rely on Andrew Pinckney and Tommy Seidl to continue to play well at the plate. Pinckney is batting .350 which is good for second best average for the Tide and he’s collected a team-best 12 doubles this season. Seidl leads the Crimson Tide with a .364 batting average and carries a 10-game hitting streak entering the NCAA Regional.
As the No. 4 seed, Nicholls is led by head coach Mike Silva who has taken the Colonels to the postseason in just his second season at the helm. Nicholls finished the regular season 34-22 overall while winning both the regular season and Southland Conference Tournament.
The Tuscaloosa Regional is set for June 2-5. A game 7 if necessary game would be played on Monday, June 5 at a time to be determined.
In the Auburn Regional, Auburn will host as the No. 1 seed followed by No. 2 seed Southern Miss., No. 3 seed Samford and No. 4 seed Penn.
The regional will begin with Southern Miss facing off against Samford on Friday, June 2 at 1 p.m. followed by Auburn taking on Penn at 6 p.m. to begin the double-elimination regional.
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles come into the Auburn Regional with a 41-17 record and captured the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship as the No. 2 seed. One of the hottest teams in baseball, the Golden Eagles have won 19 of their last 21 games and they are the only team in Division I to reach the 40-win mark for the seventh-straight season. Easily one of the biggest challengers to Auburn in the regional, the Golden Eagles will rely on pitcher Tanner Hall who finished with a 12-3 record this season and was tabbed a first-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball. He will take the mound against Samford where the Bulldogs will counter with their ace right-hander Jacob Cravey. Cravey was named top pitcher in the Southern Conference after finishing the season with a 9-2 record and 3.19 ERA.
Samford comes into the Auburn Regional winning both the regular season and conference tournament titles in the Southern Conference finishing with a 36-23 overall record. Cravey was named a second-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and will need a solid start for the Bulldogs to make a run at an upset win over Southern Miss. In addition, Samford was scheduled to face Auburn earlier this season in two mid-week games with one being canceled due to inclement weather on May 9. In the lone matchup on April 18, the Bulldogs fell to Auburn 13-3 at Plainsman Park.
For Auburn, 2023 marks a first in program history as the Tigers are hosting a regional in back-to-back season for the first time ever. Head Coach Butch Thompson has settled in nicely in his tenure on The Plains as 2023 marks Auburn’s fifth regional appearance in the last six postseasons under Thompson.
The Tigers have used a stellar second half of the season that catapulted them to hosting a regional. After beginning 5-10 in SEC play, Auburn won 12 of its last 15 SEC games in the second half of the season to finish with a 17-13 record in SEC play. The Tigers are slated to send Chase Allsup on the mound to pitch in game one against Penn. In his last outing against eventual SEC Tournament Champion Vanderbilt, Allsup threw five innings while allowing just three hits in a loss against the Commodores.
Offensively, Auburn has plenty of weapons but a pair of freshmen standouts will need to keep swinging at the plate as Chris Stanfield and Ike Irish both look to have big weekends. Irish leads Auburn with a .364 batting average and Stanfield primarily gets Auburn’s offense going at the leadoff spot where he’s stolen a team-high nine bases. Although young, both are looked at as leaders and will be the cornerstone of Auburn baseball in the coming years.
The Penn Quakers, Auburn’s opponent in game one, finished the season with a 32-14 overall record and will make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1995. The Quakers got the nod after winning both the regular season and conference tournament title in the Ivy League. Penn head coach John Yurkow was also voted the Ivy League Coach of the Year at season’s end.
The Auburn Regional is set for June 2-5. A game 7 if necessary game would be played on Monday, June 5 at a time to be determined.