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Atlantic 10 Tournament Preview

The Atlantic 10 tournament starts this week and there will be a new champion for the first time since 2019 as the two-time defending champion VCU Rams failed to qualify for postseason play following an 11-13 conference record. Seven schools go head-to-head in Richmond, Virginia this week in hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament. The A-10 is a one-bid league, so in order to reach the big dance, teams must win this tournament to qualify for a Regional.


Format

The A-10 Tournament is a 7-team double elimination tournament with seeds #2-6 kicking things off on Tuesday while #1 seed Saint Joseph's gets a bye through the first round of games. Of the 12 programs that play baseball in the Atlantic-10, only the top 7 conference records qualify for the conference tournament.


Bracket

St. Joseph's (27-22-1) won their first ever regular season Atlantic 10 championship with a 17-7 record in conference play. The Hawks haven't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1974. Ryan Cesarini leads the A-10 in hitting with a .402 average and had 27 extra base hits for the Hawks this year. Domenic Picone and Ryan DeSanto provide a very good 1-2 punch on the mound, which should help St. Joseph's have the edge as the #1 seed playing later in the week than everyone else.


College Baseball Central's experts on The Weekend Rotation have unanimously predicted #2 seed Davidson (29-22) to win the tournament and earn the A-10's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Davidson is seeking its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2017 when they stunned North Carolina and Florida Gulf Coast to win the Chapel Hill Regional and advance to a Super Regional. The Wildcats boast the most powerful 1-2 punch in the conference with Ryan Wilson and Jack Cotrone each having 13+ homers on the year. Davidson's 89 home runs led the conference and plays a large part in what makes them the favorites to win the tournament.


Dayton (24-32) earned the #3 seed over St. Louis thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker. The Flyers haven't been to an NCAA Regional since 2012 when they lost to Texas A&M and TCU in the College Station Regional. Marcos Pujols is a player to watch for Dayton after he hit .322 with 14 home runs while Ben Jones led the team with a 1.064 OPS. Aside from Jones and Pujols, Dayton has major holes offensively, as they ranked 10th in the A-10 in batting.


St. Louis (30-21) is the #4 seed after finishing 15-9 in the conference but losing the tie-breaker to #3 Dayton. They most recently won the A-10 tournament in 2018, where they played in the Oxford Regional against Ole Miss and Missouri State. The Billikens are the only team in the conference to be in the Top 3 for both hitting and pitching. They also are the only A-10 team with 30 or more wins. Henry Litman is the ace of the staff after going 5-3 with a 3.75 ERA over 12 starts this year. Cole Smith and Patrick Clohisy will lead the lineup after each had an OPS over 1.000.


The Richmond Spiders (26-26) are the #5 seed and haven't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2003. Richmond led the conference with a .308 batting average and 132 doubles. The Spiders are led by Johnny Hipsman, who was top 5 in the A-10 in average, slugging, OPS, and doubles. Jordan Jaffe was second in the conference in RBIs, while Jared Sprague-Lott led the team with 13 home runs and drew 44 walks.


George Mason, despite having a 29-24 overall record, is only the #6 seed after going just 13-10 in conference play. The Patriots, best known for their basketball team's 2006 Final Four run, hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament in baseball since 2014. George Mason's hitting leaves a lot to be desired, but they led the Atlantic 10 with a 4.85 team ERA. Ace Chad Gartland won the conference ERA title and was 6-2 with a 3.50 ERA over 79.2 innings pitched. Dayton will have a tall task matching up against him in the first game given their hitting flaws. Mason's second starter, Ben Shields, was second in the A-10 with 93 strikeouts and has nasty stuff. With good pitching, the Patriots could be a surprise team in this tournament.


The #7 and final seed in the tournament is the Rhode Island Rams (23-27). Rhode Island last went to an NCAA Regional in 2016 where they stunned Regional host South Carolina in the first game. The Rams are led by pitcher Trystan Levesque, who led the conference with 96 strikeouts. Billy Butler is their bat to watch, having hit .349 on the year with 16 doubles and 12 home runs.


The Atlantic 10 Tournament gets started on Tuesday with Richmond and St. Louis at 11 AM.

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