March 18, 2019

Maine may fit bill as future NCAA baseball regional site

Husson College vice president for sports leadership and assistant baseball coach John Winkin and America East Commissioner and NCAA Baseball Committee member Chris Monasch would like to see the University of Maine submit a bid to host one of the 16 four-team NCAA Baseball Tournament regionals in the near future.

During Winkin’s 22-year tenure as the head baseball coach at Maine, the Black Bears hosted six NCAA Northeast Regionals.

Maine earned its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1993 and will play in the Los Angeles Regional at the University of Southern California’s Dedeaux Field beginning Friday.

“There were 34 bids [for the 16 regional sites] but none from the northeast. That meant the NCAA didn’t have any place to send [NCAA Tournament teams] Maine, Marist [N.Y.], Harvard or Central Connecticut within the 400-mile radius,” said Winkin. He was referring to the NCAA edict to limit air travel in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by keeping teams within 400 miles of their campuses for NCAA Tournament play.

That has been applied in several sports.

Because there isn’t a regional in the northeast, Maine is traveling to the Los Angeles; Central Connecticut is playing in the Austin, Texas; Harvard will play in Houston and Marist will play in Lincoln, Neb.

“There wasn’t a bid east of Notre Dame [Ind.] and north of Virginia,” said Monasch.

In order to host a regional, Monasch said the NCAA must be guaranteed a minimum net pay-out of $35,000.

Had Maine made a bid this year, Monasch said it would have stood a good chance of landing one.

Not only does Maine have the lights and tarpaulin required by the NCAA, Monasch pointed out that “when Maine hosted regionals in the past, they drew pretty well.

“It’s [Mahaney Diamond] a beautiful facility for a tournament,” said Monasch, who attended the America East tournament in Orono last weekend which was won by the Black Bears.

Winkin said he expects Maine to be a dominant team in America East and that will also help its chances along with the fact Monasch is on the NCAA’s Baseball Committee.

Maine senior associate athletic director Paul Bubb, who will become the institution’s interim AD on June 30, said he and head baseball coach Paul Kostacopoulos are interested in submitting bids in the future.

“We have a nice facility but what we have to do is make sure we can get the attendance to support it,” said Bubb. “It’s not just the dollar amount, the NCAA is looking to provide a good experience for the student-athletes.”

And, as Bubb pointed out, having good crowds for the games would generate a positive environment.

“We’d like to get at least 1,500 each day,” said Bubb.

Monasch speculated that an eastern regional would have at least two if not three eastern teams in it along with a national power.

“And each regional is required to have a top 16 seed in it,” said Monasch.

Monasch said another possibility that he will explore with commissioners within the northeast region would be to share a bid to “minimize the [financial] risks.

“There is no shortage of facilities in the northeast that would meet the NCAA criteria,” said Monasch.

Meanwhile, Winkin flew to the University of Florida Wednesday to serve as tournament director for the NCAA Division I Gainesville Regional.

Following that four-team, double-elimination affair, Winkin will be the tournament director for the best-of-three Super Regional series between the winners of the Gainesville and Columbia, S.C., regionals.

Winkin has coached in or been a tourney director every year since 1974 when he came to Maine from Waterville’s Colby College.

“There’s nothing like it. You’re in the heart of it all. You get to see coaches you know, renew friendships and see some great teams and great players. You’re treated like a king and you’re an important part of what’s going on. It’s fun,” said Winkin.

He said it also gives him the opportunity to “stay on top of what’s going on.”

Three Bears invited to all-star game

Three University of Maine players and Cape Elizabeth junior pitcher Brian Robinson from the University of Vermont were chosen to play in the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Coaches Association’s 28th annual all-star game on Thursday at noon at Boston’s Fenway Park.

The game will pit the University Division (Division I) stars against their College Division (Division II and III) counterparts.

But Maine sophomore pitcher Mike Collar, junior third baseman Joe Drapeau and sophomore left fielder Simon Williams will miss the game as they prepare for Friday night’s NCAA Tournament game against Cal State-Northridge at the University of Southern California’s Dedeaux Field in Los Angeles.

BU wins AE Commissioner’s Cup

Boston University won America East’s Stuart P. Haskell Jr. Commissioner’s Cup awarded to the top athletic program for 2001-2002 covering the conference’s 21 sports.

It is the first time Boston University had won the Commissioner’s Cup since 1990-91.

BU racked up 426 points, 117 points better than runner-up New Hampshire.

Maine was third with 290 followed by Northeastern (283), Hartford (279), Vermont (247), Stony Brook (213), Albany (196) and Binghamton (175).

The institutions receive points based on regular season standings and performance in the league’s post-season tournaments.

BU won championships in eight of the 18 conference sports it offers; it was runner-up in another and won regular season titles in four sports.

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