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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Rice to host regional; UH's path to CWS to start on road

Updated 11:35 pm, Sunday, May 25, 2014
  • University of Houston head coach Todd Whitting and Rice head coach Wayne Graham shake hands after Houston's 7-3 victory during an NCAA baseball game at Constellation Field on Tuesday, May 13, 2014, in Sugar Land. Photo: J. Patric Schneider, For The Chronicle / © 2014 Houston Chronicle
    University of Houston head coach Todd Whitting and Rice head coach Wayne Graham shake hands after Houston's 7-3 victory during an NCAA baseball game at Constellation Field on Tuesday, May 13, 2014, in Sugar Land. Photo: J. Patric Schneider, For The Chronicle

 

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The Road to Omaha will involve different routes for Rice and Houston.

The Owls were among the 16 schools named regional hosts Sunday, while UH must wait until Monday morning to learn its destination in the NCAA Division I baseball tournament.

"I'm disappointed we're not hosting," UH coach Todd Whitting said. "I really don't think there is anything else we could have done other than win the regular-season title. It just didn't happen."

Earlier Sunday, the Cougars beat Louisville 10-4 to capture the American Athletic Conference tournament title in Clearwater, Fla. In Hattiesburg, Miss., Rice rallied for an 11-5 win over UTSA in the Conference USA championship game.

It marked the first time since 2008 that the intown rivals won a regular-season or tournament baseball title in the same season.

The Owls will open at Reckling Park for the 11th time in the last 14 years when the tournament begins Friday.

"It's a definite advantage," Rice coach Wayne Graham said. "We haven't lately been taking advantage of that."

The other regional host schools are: LSU, Indiana, Virginia, Miami, Oregon State, South Carolina, TCU, Florida, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Cal Poly, Oklahoma State, Florida State and Louisiana Lafayette.

Regional pairings for the 64-team field and eight national seeds will be announced at 11 a.m. Monday.

The Cougars had a strong case to host with a 3-0 record against Rice, a No. 10 RPI and a strong closing stretch. What likely hurt was a distant third-place finish in the AAC and sweep at home to Louisville, which landed the final regional host spot.

Rice had a strong RPI (No. 7), strength of schedule (No. 8) and won the C-USA regular-season and tournament titles.

"I think Rice definitely deserves to host. Both of us do," Whitting said. "Folks at Houston will compare they got the nod over us, but I don't see it that way."

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