June 14, 2012 - by
It’s a Whole New Ballgame

June 14, 2012




TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Few college-baseball environments are better than Dick Howser Stadium when it comes to postseason but if there is one place that can take the fanfare, excitement and electricity that makes Florida State’s home so special its TD Ameritrade Park.

Brandon Mellor
Brandon Mellor
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
bmellor@fsu.edu
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As the new home for the annual College World Series in Omaha, Neb. — it replaced the iconic Rosenblatt Stadium last year — TD Ameritrade Park has a seating capacity of 24,000 and is expandable to 35,000. Last season’s national championship game between Florida and South Carolina boasted a record crowd of 26,721 on hand to watch the Gamecocks claim their second consecutive title.

To put those attendance numbers into perspective and better appreciate the type of environment that the Seminoles are going to be part of as the program makes its 21st College World Series appearance, one only has to look at the ‘Noles’ postseason to this point. 

In five combined games — all wins — over the course of the regional and super regional weekends at Dick Howser Stadium, FSU played in front of a constantly rocking and rowdy home crowd. All five of those games were either at capacity or close to it and the combined attendance still only reached 20,480.

More so than any of that, however, is what the stadium represents. College baseball history. Glory. Lifelong memories.

Long story short: it’s a whole new ballgame for a surging Seminoles team in search of its first national championship.

“It’s like a big carnival out there,” FSU junior first baseman Jayce Boyd said before the ‘Noles left Tallahassee. “It’s like Christmas for a college baseball player.”

Boyd is one of several FSU upperclassmen making a second trip to college baseball’s Graceland. Two years ago, the Seminoles played in the final world series ever at Rosenblatt Stadium — a trip that saw the garnet and gold ultimately fall to TCU in the second round.

If FSU is going to stay out of the loser’s bracket and put itself in position to nab the coveted championship trophy, managing the emotions of the unforgettable experience and intense pressure that comes with being in the nation’s final eight is all the more important when considering that the Seminoles count on so many young players.

As it has done all year, Florida State will start with freshman Brandon Leibrandt on the mound Friday while fellow rookie Mike Compton will be on the bump for the team’s second game Sunday.

“You can’t put too much pressure on yourself,” FSU coach Mike Martin said. “You can’t approach this like or a life-or-death situation. You approach it like you’ve approached all of the games that you’ve played this far. And that’s being sure that you’re letting the game come to you. That you’re staying in the moment. 

Whether you’ve been there 14 times before like Mike Martin or are making your first trip to the College World Series like Friday starter Brandon Leibrandt, the excitement of going to and playing in Omaha never changes.

“You’re not trying to go do something that you’re not capable of doing.”

Martin’s quest for his first title in 15 trips to the College World Series as the ‘Noles’ longtime skipper gets started with a Friday-night matchup against Arizona.

The Wildcats are a potent offensive bunch, ranking sixth in the entire country with an average of 7 1/2 runs per contest. As a team they possess a batting average of .333 with a combined 20 home runs, 126 doubles and 35 triples on the year.

“You look at their numbers and your eyes bug out because you just don’t maintain that throughout the year with these bats,” Martin said. “But they are for real. They’re going to be a real challenge and there’s no doubt that this Series is going to be one of tremendous excitement … “

Friday’s game is scheduled for a 9 p.m. ET first pitch.

Seminoles.com will have complete coverage of every FSU game in Omaha, including an interactive in-game chat breaking down all of the action and highlighting all of what is sure to be yet another Omaha spectacle.

“I watched it on TV as a little kid thinking, ‘Wow, this is awesome … maybe one day,'” Leibrandt said. “And it’s happening.”

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