Notre Dame nabs 10th overall seed in NCAA Baseball Tournament, will host regional

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The Notre Dame baseball team received the 10th-overall seed Sunday in the 2021 NCAA baseball tournament and will host a regional round at Frank Eck Stadium for the first time in 17 years.

One of 16 regional hosts, the Irish will play Central Michigan at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 4 with Michigan and Connecticut playing at 7 p.m. in the double-elimination format.

Notre Dame head coach Link Jarrett has led the Irish to a 30-11 record this season and their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2015.

Ranked fourth in the latest Baseball America poll, Notre Dame (30-11) won the ACC Atlantic Division and finished with the best record in the ACC before stumbling in a loss to Virginia in the second round of the conference tournament on Friday.

This will be Notre Dame's 22nd all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament — first since 2015 — fifth regional to be held in South Bend and the first since 2004. The last time the Irish made it to the College World Series in 2002, the postseason run began with the South Bend Regional win over Ohio State.

Frank Eck Stadium will host its first NCAA baseball regional since 2004 when Notre Dame opens play against Central Michigan at 1 p.m. Friday, June 4, 2021

Razorbacks earn top seed

No. 1 Arkansas was rewarded for its dominant run through the Southeastern Conference, landing the No. 1 national seed.

The Razorbacks (46-10) won all 10 of their SEC series and wrapped up their first conference tournament championship on Sunday. After losing three straight games in March, the Hogs never lost consecutive games.

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The 64-team tournament opens Friday in 16 regionals. Winners advance to eight best-of-three super regionals. Those winners move on to the College World Series in Omaha.

The top eight national seeds are assured of hosting super regionals if they win their regionals.

The national seeds following Arkansas: Texas (42-15), Tennessee (45-16), Vanderbilt (40-15), Arizona (40-15), TCU (40-17), Mississippi State (40-15) and Texas Tech.

Texas has its highest national seed since it was No. 2 in 2010, and the program will be making its NCAA-best 60th appearance in the tournament.

Vanderbilt, making its SEC-best 15th straight tournament appearance, will be going for its third national championship since 2014 after winning the title two years ago. There was no tournament in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SEC led all conferences with nine teams in the field, followed by the ACC (8), Pac-12 (6), Big 12 and Conference USA (4) and Big Ten (3).

Ball State, IU miss tournament

The last four teams selected were Alabama, Michigan, North Carolina and UC Santa Barbara. The first four out were Baylor, Pittsburgh, Georgia and Ball State. Indiana also failed to make the field after faltering down the stretch, losing seven of its last eight games, including a doubleheader loss over the weekend to Maryland. 

Baylor would be first in line to replace any team that can't play its regional because of failure to clear COVID-19 testing protocols.

Stetson athletic director Jeff Altier, the Division I Baseball Committee chairman, said varying scheduling strategies because of the pandemic made the task of selecting at-large teams extremely difficult.

Altier said the opinions of regional advisory committees weighed heavily in the decision-making. Typically the RPI, or rating percentage index, helps the committee decipher teams' comparative strengths, but it wasn't as useful this year because several conferences didn't play outside their leagues.

“It was an incredibly difficult year,” Altier said. “Nobody experienced COVID before. We look at the RPI as a tremendous metric for us to help us evaluate, and in a year where you cannot play everybody across the conferences as typically you would do, it makes it difficult to choose.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story