OMAHA, NE - JUNE 29: Whit Merrifield #5 of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates after hitting the game winning RBI off pitcher Dan Klein #23 of the UCLA Bruins to win game 2 and the men's 2010 NCAA College Baseball World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium on June 29, 2010 in Omaha, Nebraska. The Gamecocks defeated the Bruins 2-1 in eleven innings to win the National Championship. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The 2012 Mid-American Conference Baseball Tournament begins on Wednesday with Kent State as a heavy favorite.
Winners of seven of the last ten and three consecutive Mid-American Conference baseball tournaments, the Kent St. Golden Flashes are the epitome of a powerhouse at the conference level. And when the 2012 MAC Tournament gets underway on Wednesday, the Golden Flashes will once again take the field eyeing the league's top prize as other schools are seemingly powerless to stop them.
To make things even worse on opponents, the conference's new location for 2012, All-Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio, happens to be just a one-hour drive from Kent State's campus. Having the best players and the best program apparently isn't enough -- the Golden Flashes will benefit from a sizable home-field advantage too.
The format for the tournament is somewhat unconventional in that losing teams are still alive in the competition, which is a concept that offers plenty of hope for teams that happen to stumble early on. The double elimination style certainly adds an extra layer of intrigue, and in many ways makes it less of a bracket style format and more of a free-for-all battle royale. The team that survives through the four-day gauntlet of baseball will be crowned 2012 MAC Champions, and that's how it should be.
For more on the 2012 MAC Baseball Tournament, stick with SB Nation Cleveland's StoryStream.