Graduate student Jesse Colford of Bangor checks out the championship trophy after the Husson University claimed the North Atlantic Conference baseball title on Friday. The Eagles are headed to Hartford, Connecticut, for an NCAA Division III Regional. Credit: Courtesy of Tyler Hewey

The Husson University baseball team has earned the No. 5 seed for the NCAA Division III regional tournament that begins Thursday in Hartford, Connecticut.

The Hartford regional, which continues through next Sunday, is being hosted by Trinity College as part of the 48-team NCAA Division III Tournament.

Husson, which earned an automatic berth to the NCAA by winning the North Atlantic Conference championship last Friday, will open play in the six-team, double-elimination regional against New York’s second-seeded Oswego State at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Coach Chris Morris’ Husson club (22-7) is making the program’s first NCAA appearance since 2011 after defeating SUNY Cobleskill 14-6 in the third and deciding game of the NAC championship series.

Oswego State (24-5) earned one of six at-large bids to the NCAAs after finishing as the runner-up in the State University of New York Athletic Conference tournament. The Lakers were seeded first entering that event but fell to SUNY Cortland 8-6 in Saturday’s league championship game.

Oswego State is making its sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance, having reached the Division III College World Series in 2017 and 2018.

Husson is one of two Maine entries in the Hartford regional along with the University of Southern Maine of Gorham. USM (31-9) is the No. 1 seed after winning the Little East Conference title Friday.

The Huskies advanced when Cam Seymoure hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in a dramatic 7-6 championship-game victory over top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State.

Coach Ed Flaherty’s club faces No. 6 Johnson & Wales-Providence (13-14) in the regional tournament opener at 11 a.m. Thursday.

USM swept Husson in a four-game series played more than two months ago on March 20 and 21. The two doubleheaders, played at the Winkin Complex on the Husson campus in Bangor, were the first games of the season for both teams.

USM is ranked 15th nationally in the latest poll, while Oswego State is 21st.

The other first-round matchup at the Hartford regions matches No. 3 Wheaton (16-4) against No. 4 Salve Regina (14-5-1) at 6 p.m.

Due to COVID-19 issues, the NCAA Division III baseball tournament field was reduced from 58 teams to 48 teams this season. Instead of the regional/super regional format first employed by Division III in 2019, the NCAA this year is staging eight, six-team regionals.

Regional champions advance to the Division III World Series,which begins June 4 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...