NCAA Regional Run Earns Toppers National Ranking, First Since 2001

By: Brad Fields, WKU Athletic Media Relations
By: Brad Fields, WKU Athletic Media Relations

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — In the latest release of the Collegiate Baseball Top 30 poll, Western Kentucky University is ranked 23rd, the first national ranking for the Hilltoppers since 2001. WKU finished their record-setting season at 42-20 and came within two innings of advancing to the program's first-ever NCAA Super Regional.

LSU is the nation's top-ranked team this week followed by Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, Texas, and Florida State rounding out the top five. Ole Miss, the team that ended the Hilltoppers postseason run, is eighth in the poll.

In notching the program's first 40-win season in 21 years, and fifth overall, WKU posted a 21-8 mark in league play to earn a share of the 2009 Sun Belt Conference Regular Season Championship, a first in the program's 26-year affiliation with the conference.

Despite coming up just short of repeating as Sun Belt Tournament Champions, the Hilltoppers received the program's first at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, earning a three-seed in the Oxford Regional. In five games in the NCAA Tournament, WKU went 3-2, equaling in three days what the program had accomplished in terms of number of postseason wins in the previous 89 years of Hilltopper baseball. WKU knocked off second-seeded Missouri twice as well as rallied for a remarkable 10-9 win over eighth-ranked Ole Miss to force a winner-take-all NCAA Regional Championship game on Monday night.

In a performance for the ages, the Rebels' Drew Pomeranz and WKU's Matt Ridings battled each other pitch-for-pitch, taking a 1-1 game into the eighth inning before Ole Miss came out on top 4-1 in front of a crowd of 8,255 at Oxford-University Stadium.

Individually, Sun Belt All-Conference First-Teamer Wade Gaynor hit three home runs and drove in eight RBI in five NCAA Tournament games while sophomore catcher Matt Rice, a CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American, smacked 11 hits to give him 101 on the season, breaking the 24-year-old single season school record. Lastly, senior slugger Chad Cregar, playing in his hometown, hit one of the longest home runs in Oxford-Stadium University history in the tournament opener against Missouri.

JUNE 2, 2009

1. LSU (49-16)
2. Arizona State (47-12)
3. Cal State Fullerton (45-14)
4. Texas (44-13-1)
5. Florida State (45-16)
6. North Carolina (45-16)
7. Rice (43-16)
8. Mississippi (43-18)
9. Florida (42-20)
10. Virginia (46-12-1)
11. UC Irvine (45-15)
12. Louisville (47-16)
13. Clemson (44-20)
14. East Carolina (46-18)
15. TCU (39-16)
16. Arkansas (37-22)
17. Southern Miss (38-24)
18. Georgia Tech (38-19-1)
19. Oklahoma (43-20)
20. Miami (Fla.) (38-22)
21. South Carolina (40-23)
22. Kansas State (43-18-1)
23. WKU (42-20)
24. Oregon State (37-19)
25. Ohio State (42-19)
26. Minnesota (40-19)
27. Oklahoma State (34-24)
28. Alabama (37-21)
29. Vanderbilt (37-27)
30. Coastal Carolina (47-16) is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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