The University of Maine’s baseball team will play in the NCAA Division I Regional in Coral Gables, Florida, on Friday when the Black Bears will take on the University of Miami Hurricanes.

UMaine, which is 32-19, and 40-19 Miami will play at 7 p.m. at Alex Rodriguez Park in Mark Light Field after the University of Texas, 38-20, and Louisiana (Lafayette), 40-22, begin the four-team double-elimination affair at 2 p.m. EST.

Miami is the ninth overall seed among the 64 teams that earned an NCAA Tournament berth. The Hurricanes, who reached the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game only to lose to Clemson, 11-5, were the nation’s 11th-ranked team a week ago.  

The Black Bears, whose 32 wins are the most since the 2013 UMaine team went 37-22, won their first America East Tournament championship since 2011 over the weekend at Binghamton.

“It’s awesome, I’m excited to go down there,” said UMaine junior second baseman Quinn McDaniel from Eliot. “It’s a good spot for us.”

McDaniel said to be representing the state and the university in a regional tournament is especially meaningful.

“It comes down to the special group we have here and the work we have been putting in all year,” said McDaniel.

UMaine and Miami have a long history dating back to when UMaine head coach John Winkin and Miami coach Ron Fraser began scheduling games against each other in 1976. The New Jersey natives were good friends.

Fraser died in 2013 and Winkin passed away a year later but the teams have since played including a three-game set in Coral Gables in 2018 with UMaine winning the opener 6-1 and Miami taking the next two 7-6 and 7-1.

The two baseball programs have met 82 times with Miami holding a 68-14 advantage including a 4-0 edge in the College World Series.

UMaine took three of four from the Hurricanes when they made their only trip to Orono in 1990, two years after they had split a pair of games at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach.

“We can’t go down there and try to do too much or let the moment get too big for us,” said sophomore designated hitter Jeremiah Jenkins. “If we relax and have fun, we’ll be fine. We just have to take it one game at a time.”

Other players said they have high hopes for the tournament.

“I think people are going to be surprised at how good we are,” said junior shortstop Jake Rainess. “I think we’re going to make some noise down there. We’ll be in the sunshine and we’re always happy about that.

Rainess noted that the two teams have a similar ‘M’ logo on their hats “which is kind of funny.”

He was interested in learning about the long history of the rivalry and said “I’m sure the ESPN broadcasters will be all over that.”

“I’m excited to learn about it,” Rainess said.

UMaine head coach Nick Derba said that the long history between the two schools will create an “extra special factor” in the regional and he noted that it will be “kind of cool” for Black Bear junior third baseman Jake Marquez and senior designated hitter Connor Goodman because they are Miami natives.

Marquez is from Miami and Goodman is from Miami Beach.

“It gives them a chance to go home,” he said.

The 64-team field for the tournament is comprised of teams that won their conference tournaments and earned the automatic berths to the NCAA Tournament and a number of at-large teams that didn’t win their league tournaments but had outstanding seasons.

The 16 winners will then advance to the super regionals, which are best-of-three series between two teams at one of their fields.

The eight super regional winners advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

UMaine won the America East regular season title with a 19-5 league record and then beat UMass Lowell 10-7, the University of Maryland Baltimore County 3-1 and host Binghamton 6-1 to claim the tourney championship.

UMaine has won seven in a row and 29 of its last 39 games after a 3-10 start.

Texas went 15-9 in the Big 12 but lost its two tournament games to Kansas (6-3) and Kansas State (6-0).

UMaine is 0-7 lifetime against the Longhorns.

UMaine has never played the Ragin’ Cajuns from Louisiana.

Louisiana went 18-12 in the Sun Belt Conference during the regular season and went 4-2 in the tournament but lost to Southern Mississippi 6-2 in the championship game.