Xavier Musketeers play host Vanderbilt in NCAA baseball tournament

CINCINNATI –  The upstart Xavier Musketeers continue their surprising postseason in an NCAA baseball regional tournament in Nashville, Tenn., this weekend.

The fourth-seeded Musketeers (29-27) will meet host and top regional seed Vanderbilt (41-18) in their 8 p.m. ET opener Friday, while No. 2 seed Oregon (42-18) meets No. 3 Clemson (36-23) in the same double-elimination regional.

The Xavier game will be streamed on ESPN3, a subscription-based network.

RELATED: See the 64-team bracket

The 16 regional winners advance to the best-of-three super regionals next week. The remaining eight teams will play in the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, beginning June 14.

Vanderbilt, ranked No. 20 by Baseball America, is coming off a quick and disappointing exit from the SEC tournament. The Commodores beat Tennessee 3-2 but lost by a combined 18-3 to LSU and Ole Miss.

"We just didn't get many timely hits," Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said.

Nevertheless, the Commodores have a strong RPI ranking (7) and 19 wins over RPI Top 50 opponents and figure to be the heavy favorites over Xavier.

But the Musketeers seem to like the underdog role. 

Xavier will be making only its second appearance in the 64-team NCAA tournament after its surprising victory in the Big East tournament last weekend.

RELATED: Xavier wins Big East championship

"We fought through a lot of adversity this past year," said Xavier coach Scott Googins.  "We've had a lot of injuries, overcome a lot of obstacles. Being a four seed going into the conference tournament, we weren't really sure what our chances were. Lost our first game of the tournament, but our guys hung in there, battled back and ended up winning the tournament."

The Musketeers didn't look like an NCAA tournament contender when they dropped eight of their last 10 games going into the Big East tournament and lost their first-round game to tourney favorite Creighton 9-2. But the Musketeers won three in a row, beating St. John's 8-2 and Seton Hall 5-3 before knocking off Creighton 5-0 in Sunday's final behind a three-hitter by freshman Trent Astle.

Senior outfielder Mitch Elliott was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, hitting .444 (8-for-18) with two extra-base hits, four RBI and three runs.

Five Musketeers joined Elliott on the all-tournament team: Astle, pitcher Sean Campbell, infielder Joe Forney, designated hitter Derek Hasenbeck and catcher Daniel Rizzie.

Xavier made its first appearance in the NCAA tournament in 2009 after winning the Atlantic 10 championship. The Musketeers went 1-2 in the NCAA regional.

Louisville (45-15) hosts an NCAA regional and will play Kent State (36-21) with Kentucky (35-13) meeting Kansas (34-24) in the other opener.

Indiana (42-13) hosts a regional and opens against Youngstown State (16-36).

Indiana is seeded fourth overall – highest ever for a Big Ten team.

The other overall seeds are:

1. Oregon State (42-12)
2. Florida (40-21)
3. Virginia (44-13)
5. Florida State (43-15)
6. Louisiana-Lafayette (53-7)
7. TCU (42-15)
8. LSU (44-14-1)

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