AUGUSTA, GA – With the 2012 regular season in the books, the Peach Belt Conference has released the bracket for next week’s baseball tournament in Columbus, Ga. The tournament will begin on Wednesday, May 9, with four games beginning at 9:00 am and continue through Sunday, May 13. For the second straight year, all games will be played at historic Golden Park in Columbus; the tournament is being hosted by the Sports Council of Columbus and Columbus State University.
The tournament features the top four teams from both divisions playing in the DII World Series double-elimination bracket. Armstrong Atlantic State is the top seed in the east division and PBC Regular-season champion while Francis Marion is the #2 seed. USC Aiken and Lander tied for the third spot with USCA taking the #3 seed after winning two of three against Lander in the regular season. Lander will be the #4 seed in the east.
In the west, Georgia College is the top seed with Montevallo at #2, host Columbus State at #3 and North Georgia at #4.
The tournament will begin on Wednesday morning with Montevallo taking on USC Aiken at 9:00 am as both teams play at Golden Park for the first time. UM will be making their first-ever appearance in the PBC Tournament after joining the Peach Belt in 2010. The Falcons were 16-14 in league play, the most conference wins the team has ever had. USC Aiken returns to the PBC Tournament after a year away, the Pacers hosted the PBC Tournament from 2008-10 and will be looking for their first title since 1993. USCA took two of three games from Montevallo as the two teams opened conference play against one another in Aiken in mid-February.
Armstrong takes on North Georgia in the second game at 12:30 pm. The Pirates won their fourth PBC Championship this year, the first since 2003, with a 20-10 league record. Armstrong was in the middle of the pack in the PBC east before going on a 14-game winning streak, including 11 straight conference games, to leap into first. North Georgia won the 2008 PBC Tournament, played in the 2009 championship game and reached the semifinals at Golden Park last year. The Saints finished 13-17 in league play but won five of their last eight to secure the spot in the tournament. Armstrong swept North Georgia in three games when the two met March 10-11 in Savannah.
Game three on Wednesday pits Georgia College against Lander. The Bobcats were in the running for the PBC regular-season title through the final weekend, falling just a ½ game behind Armstrong for the title. GC has played in four PBC Championship games without a win, but were the last PBC team to reach the DII World Series, which they accomplished in 2010. Lander returns to the PBC Tournament for the second straight year after setting a school record with 34 wins this season. The Bearcats won their final five PBC contests, scoring 10 or more runs in four of them. Lander also won two of three games at Georgia College in early March.
Columbus State will take the field in front of their home town fans in the final game of the day against Francis Marion. CSU won the 2010 PBC Tournament and finished 15-15 in league play this year to get the #3 seed. The Cougars are hitting over .300 as a team and have the third-best staff ERA in the Peach Belt. Francis Marion was the preseason #1 team in the nation but struggled in the early part of the year before winning 14 of their final 17 games, including nine in a row heading to Columbus. The Patriots won the 2009 PBC Tournament and reached the championship game the year before that. FMU won two of three at Columbus State in mid-February.
To see the full bracket, click here (PDF).
Visit the official tournament website here.