NEW ORLEANS (SBC) - The 2011 Sun Belt Conference baseball regular season title came down to the final conference weekend once again as FIU and Troy battled for the conference crown and overall top seed at next week's baseball tournament to be held May 25 through 29 at Warhawk Field on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Troy (40-16, 21-9 SBC) took two-of-three games this weekend from South Alabama to win its first regular season title since the 2006 season, the year the Trojans also won the SBC tournament. The Trojans will enter the 2011 tournament as the league's top seed and will be placed into pool A which features seed Nos. 1, 4, 5 and 8. Pool B will feature seed Nos. 2, 3, 6 and 7.
The conference moved to a new round-robin format this season and will feature the top eight of the ten SBC teams competing against each other in two four-team pools with the team with the best record in each pool advancing to the tournament's championship game.
Each team in the tournament will be guaranteed three games and a day off prior to Championship Sunday. The tournament will begin on Wednesday, May 25 and continue through Sunday, May 29. Two-way ties in a pool will be broken by head-to-head play. In the case of a three-way tie, the highest seed will advance.
Pool B will be comprised of No. 2 FIU, No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 6 South Alabama and No. 7 Arkansas State.
FIU (37-17-1, 20-9-1 SBC) concluded its weekend winning two-of-three against intra-state rival FAU and has won 18 of its last 19 games. The Panthers lead the SBC in hitting and in pitching. FIU, one of the hottest teams in the NCAA, won the 2010 title over Troy. The Panthers will look to become just the third team in SBC history to win back-to-back tournament titles.
Louisiana-Lafayette (31-24, 18-12 SBC) enters the 2011 tournament with 18 SBC wins and 31 overall wins. The Ragin' Cajuns were the co-champions of the regular season a year ago. ULL is making its 18th appearance in the SBC tournament and will look for its first SBC tournament title since the 1998 season.
South Alabama (29-26, 15-15 SBC), the most storied program in the SBC tournament, will be making its 33rd appearance in head coach Steve Kittrell's final season at the helm of the Jaguar program. The Jags have won 11 SBC tournament titles and seeks its first since the 2005 season.
Arkansas State (25-30-1, 13-16-1 SBC) will be making its first back-to-back tournament appearance since the 2005-2006 seasons. The Red Wolves qualified for 14 consecutive tournaments from 1993-2006.
Game times for the this year's tournament are 11 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the championship game scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. CT. The championship game will be televised live by CSS/CST as part of the Sun Belt Network.
The change in format is the first change since the 1999 season when the tournament expanded to an eight-team double-elimination setup. FIU won the SBC tournament in 2010, defeating Troy 14-10 in each team's sixth game of the tournament.
The Sun Belt Conference has sent multiple teams to the NCAA Baseball Championship for 22 consecutive years. In seven of the past 12 years the Sun Belt has sent three teams to the NCAAs.
Fans can catch all of the 2011 SBC Baseball Championship live courtesy of SBC Extra. For just $9.95 you can enjoy each game leading up to the championship finale on Sunday.
2011 Sun Belt Conference Tournament Seeds (SBC Record)
1. Troy (21-9, 0.700) – A
2. FIU (20-9-1, 0.683) – B
3. Louisiana-Lafayette (18-12, 0.600) – B
4. WKU (17-13, 0.567) – A
5. Florida Atlantic (17-13, 0.567) – A
6. South Alabama (15-15, 0.500) – B
7. Arkansas State (13-16-1, 0.450) – B
8. UALR (10-20, 0.333) - A
Wednesday, May 25
Game 1 - 11am (5) Florida Atlantic vs. (4) WKU
Game 2 - 3pm (7) Arkansas State vs. (2) FIU
Game 3 - 7pm (8) UALR vs. (1) Troy
Louisiana-Lafayette and South Alabama are off
Thursday, May 26
Game 4 - 11am (6) South Alabama vs. (3) Louisiana-Lafayette
Game 5 - 3pm (4) WKU vs. (8) UALR
Game 6 - 7pm (1) Troy vs. (5) Florida Atlantic
Arkansas State and FIU are off
Friday, May 27
Game 7 - 11am (3) Louisiana-Lafayette vs. (7) Arkansas State
Game 8 - 3pm (2) FIU vs. (6) South Alabama
Game 9*-7pm (1) Troy vs. (4) WKU
Florida Atlantic and UALR are off
Saturday, May 28
Game 10* - 11am (5) Florida Atlantic vs. (8) UALR
Game 11* - 3pm (6) South Alabama vs. (7) Arkansas State
Game 12* - 7pm (2) FIU vs. (3) Louisiana-Lafayette
Troy and WKU are off
Sunday, May 29 - Championship Game (televised by the Sun Belt Network)
1pm -Winner of Pool A vs. Winner of Pool B
All Times Central and Subject to Change
Each game of the championship, excluding the championship on Sunday, will be streamed live on SunBeltSports.org. The championship game on Sunday, May 29 will be televised live by the Sun Belt Network, beginning at 1 p.m. CDT. The tournament champion will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
* - Home team for games 9-12 will be determined by a pre-tournament coin toss conducted by the head coaches.