Originally created 05/13/05

Pacers can only wait, watch



AIKEN - Robert Davis' immediate plans consist of tracking the Kennesaw State-Armstrong Atlantic State baseball series on the Internet.

"The one time I'll cheer for someone in our conference," the USC Aiken junior catcher said.

After splitting Thursday's doubleheader with Lander, the Pacers are now banking their hopes on a Kennesaw State sweep in the best-of-3 series that begins today and ends with a doubleheader Saturday.

The theory goes like this:

If the Owls win all three, USC Aiken (39-17) will make postseason play for the first time since 1993. If Kennesaw State takes two of three, the Pacers still have a shot. If Armstrong Atlantic State wins the series, USC Aiken is out.

Nothing will be set until late Sunday night, when South Atlantic Region committee members pick its top four teams for the NCAA Division II Tournament.

As it stands now, North Florida (41-12) is first in the region and is followed by Kennesaw State (33-19), Francis Marion (34-14-1), Armstrong Atlantic State (33-14) and USC Aiken.

"I disagree with what's going on with the regional poll," said Pacers coach Kenny Thomas, whose team dropped from second to fifth in the region the past two weeks. "I don't see how in the world you can take a team that's 39-17, and leave them out. That's hard to imagine.

"You tell me there's four better teams in the region than this team, I say you're crazy. Absolutely crazy."

USC Aiken, the No. 16 team in the nation, could've made its case a bit stronger with a sweep of Lander. The Pacers won the first game Wednesday night and then pounded out 10 hits to take the first game Thursday, 7-2.

With momentum on its side, USC Aiken failed to close the deal in the final game of the regular season, losing 2-0.

Lander left-hander William Dudley baffled USC Aiken, despite entering the game with dismal numbers. Sporting a 6.43 ERA, Dudley (1-1) allowed one hit in five innings. Reliever Tyler Addison allowed just one more hit to earn his third save of the season.

"To come in against a pitcher with an earned-run average like that, it's disheartening to see two hits," Davis said. "The meat of our order didn't show up in the second game, myself included. And that really hurts."

In the first game, Daniel Quartararo went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI to lead the Pacers.

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.