On Friday evening, June 1, in South Carolina, the Northeast Conference championship-winning LIU Brooklyn baseball team is playing in the NCAA tournament for the second time in its history. Their last appearance was in 1972, when the Blackbirds went 1-2 in the District 2 regional game then held at Princeton, N.J.
The Blackbirds (31-24, 16-12 NEC) are the No. 4 seed at the 2018 regional championship. Starting at 6 p.m., they’ll take on the top seed—and hometown host—the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (42-17, 23-7 Sun Belt) at Spring Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina. The Chanticleers, ranked No. 20 in the nation in NCAA’s latest Division 1 poll, won the College World Series in 2016. The double-elimination format means that LIU Brooklyn will take on either the winner or the loser of the UConn/Washington game taking place at noon on June 1.
The games will air on ESPN3, with Richard Cross on the play by play and Jay Powell providing the color commentary. It’s also streaming on the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds’ website.
With their NEC Championship win last week, the Blackbirds set several new marks for LIU’s baseball program. They won their 31st game—a record for Brooklyn—and took their first-ever NEC Tournament title.
Reaching this round is a major achievement for the Blackbirds baseball coach Dan Pirillo (LIU ’08), now in his second year at the team’s helm.
Nor has this accomplishment escaped notice in the sports world. The Washington Post ran an Associated Press story about the team, referring to a sign hanging in the Blackbirds’ dugout all season. It showed a Northeast Conference preseason baseball coaches’ poll predicting that Brooklyn would finish fifth out of seven teams in the NEC.
“No one really believed in us,” senior outfielder Dom Paiotti told the reporter, “except for us.”