BARTLESVILLE - It's not nice to fool Mother Nature because she's always going to win in the end.
That's what happened Thursday as heavy rains forced postponement the opening round of the Division I Region II Baseball Tournament at Bill Doenges Memorial Stadium.
“They had barely thrown out the ceremonial first pitch in the Seminole versus University of Arkansas-Fort Smith game, when the skies opened up, Northeastern A&M head coach Roger Ward said. “So, we'll bump everything up a day and the tournament will end on Monday instead of Sunday.
Coach Ward's Golden Norsemen enter the double-elimination tournament as the No. 1 seed after winning the Bi-State Athletic Conference regular season title with a 13-7 record. The Golden Norse stand 26-25 on the year.
“Our guys are proud of the fact that they are the first team in NEO school history to enter the regional tournament under its current format with the No. 1 seed, Ward said. “We haven't been No. 1 since they did away with the East and West Divisions in the conference in 2001.
Weather permitting the tournament will start at noon as third seeded Seminole State College battles fourth seeded Arkansas-Fort Smith. Seminole finished 11-9 in conference play and 32-21 on the season. The UAFS Lions compiled a 10-10 mark in the Bi-State and a 38-18 season record.
Defending Region II Champion Connors State College received the second seed and will face fifth seed Eastern State College at 3:30 p.m. The Cowboys finished 12-8 in the conference and 39-15 on the year. The Mountaineers were 8-12 in the Bi-State and 30-22 overall.
NEO concludes the opening round tonight by facing sixth seeded Rose State College at 7 p.m. The Raiders finished 6-14 in the Bi-State and 19-26 on the season.
An elimination game starts at noon on Saturday. The winner of the Connors-Eastern game faces the winner of the Seminole-UAFS contest at 3:30 p.m. The NEO-Rose State winner will play the Seminole-UAFS loser at 7 p.m.
The winners bracket final game will start at noon on Sunday, and depending on the number of teams remaining in the tournament, games will be played at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The championship game will start at 1 p.m. Monday followed by an “if necessary game at 4 p.m.
Winner of the Region II Tournament advances to the South Central District Tournament scheduled to start May 18-19. The best two-out-of-three playoff features the Region XVI champion from Missouri.
The NJCAA World Series will be from May 26 to June 2 in Grand Junction, Colo.
“This delay shouldn't affect anybody, Ward said. “If anything it helps because our starter (Adam) Hibdon gets another days rest after having pitched last Sunday.
“In a tournament like this, your best pitcher gets the ball in the first game and then he probably comes back and throws again on Monday, Ward said. “You've got to have good pitching in this tournament to get to the next level.
“Our guys are hungry, Ward said. “They had a real good hitting session inside the cage on Thursday and they are ready to go.
“Because it's been such and up-and-down year, they think they have something to prove, Ward said. “Even though we're the top seed, we're not necessarily the team to beat.
“After all, the No. 1 seed hasn't won this tournament in more than 10 years, Ward said. “We played well against Rose State, Seminole, UAFS and Eastern during the regular season, but Connors State has been a thorn in our side.
“We just want to go out and play it one inning at a time and one game at a time and see what happens.