No bubble team is exempt from the anxiety of selection-show day, and it’s always hard to swallow when that bubble is burst.
The Gonzaga University baseball team spent Monday morning in that silent angst as they gathered in the Patterson Baseball Complex clubhouse to watch the announcement of the 2012 NCAA Division I baseball tournament field.
And when the teams in the Eugene regional were announced, reality began to sink in for the Bulldogs, who finished the season 34-22 overall and 14-10 in West Coast Conference play – third behind Pepperdine and San Diego, who did make the field, with nationally-ranked San Diego earning an at-large bid.
“We kind of figured that wouldn’t bode too well for us,” Zags coach Mark Machtolf said. “Some of the other bubble teams popped up and it wasn’t looking so good after that.”
After winning two of their final three games of the season – 17-1 and 13-1 victories over Brigham Young – Machtolf and his team hoped they’d made their case for an at-large berth, even if it was a quiet optimism.
“At that point in the season we didn’t even know if we could afford to lose one, but we came back and won the last two and our RPI was right on the bubble,” Machtolf said. “As it is every year, there were some teams that got in where I felt like our resume was probably stronger, and then there’s some other teams that didn’t get in that maybe have a stronger resume than we did.
“The guys were optimistic, but they were also guarded and we were realistic,” Machtolf added. “We knew we were going to need a break, and we didn’t get it.”
And so Machtolf and the Zags are left looking forward to next season.
“Last year our RPI wasn’t good enough to get an at-large, but it came right down to the final game of the season for the automatic berth and we lost,” said Machtolf. “We’re knocking on the door – we’ve just got to get over the hump.”