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U.S. STEEL YARD WILL HOST NCAA REGIONAL

Monday, May 28, 2012 • POSTED BY:  Hillary Smith - Times Correspondent

GARY | When the Purdue baseball team had enough success this season that rumors began floating that the school could be selected to host an NCAA regional tournament, the school started a site hunt.

The NCAA has specific requirements for regional hosts and neither Lambert Field -- home of the Boilermakers -- nor Loeb Stadium -- a city field in Lafayette -- met those requirements.

An available park that had the lights, the seating and the open dates available to bring in the four-day regional was U.S. Steel Yard.

On Sunday, Purdue was officially selected by the NCAA to host the regional. The remaining teams will be selected during the bracket show at 11 a.m. today on ESPNU.

"This is huge for us, just to be able to showcase our venue," RailCats general manager Kevin Spudic said. "Not too often is there a Midwest regional, and hosting it at The Steel Yard is a big thing for us. It's great for us, great for the RailCats and great for the City of Gary for us to be able to host this."

The Boilermakers' roster features five players from the region in Griffith's Ryan Bridges, Crown Point pitcher Blake Mascarello, Munster's Mike Sudbury and Connor Podkul and Kyle Upp from LaPorte. In addition, head coach Doug Schreiber is also a LaPorte native.

Most of those players were on teams that played in the RailCats High School Challenge that gave prep teams a chance to play in the stadium beginning in 2003. Purdue last played in Gary against Valparaiso in 2005. The Horizon League hosted its championship at the stadium in 2010.

One of the keys to bringing the tournament to Gary was the RailCats' road trip to Winnipeg and Sioux Falls that coincided with the NCAA opening round.

RailCats manager Greg Tagert said he's upset that he won't be around to watch the tournament.

"I thought it was great when the Horizon League brought their tournament here," Tagert said. "I think it's a great venue for this. I'm a little mad that we'll be missing it. I think it's great for the area, great for college baseball."

Spudic said that the NCAA, Purdue and the RailCats' front office will work together in planning and organizing. The Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau has also been in contact with the university to arrange for hotels and other accommodations. A press release from Purdue said that teams will be staying in hotels in Merrillville.

Other regional host sites include Baton Rouge, La. (LSU), Chapel Hill, N.C. (North Carolina), Charlottesville, Va. (Virginia), College Station, Texas (Texas A&M), Columbia, S.C. (South Carolina), Coral Gables, Fla. (Miami), Eugene, Ore. (Oregon), Gainesville, Fla. (Florida), Houston (Rice), Los Angeles (UCLA), Palo Alto, Calif. (Stanford), Raleigh, N.C. (North Carolina State), Tallahassee, Fla. (Florida State), Tucson, Ariz. (Arizona) and Waco, Texas (Baylor).