May 30, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State was rewarded the No. 5 national seed and will begin its College World Series quest at home Friday against Bethune-Cookman in the double-elimination NCAA Tallahassee Regional.
The Seminoles (42-17) put together an impressive regular season resume, which included an 8-9 record against the Top 10 in the NCAA RPI and a 19-14 mark against the Top 50 RPI teams. Only three teams had more wins against the Top 50.
In all, FSU coach Mike Martin’s team amassed a 21-14 record against 12 opponents who are included in this season’s 64-team NCAA field.
The Tallahassee Regional four-team field includes second-seeded UCF (38-21) and third-seeded Alabama (33-26), as well Bethune-Cookman (36-23).
“We’ve got a big-time challenge,” said FSU coach Mike Martin, who has led the Seminoles to 32 of their 34 consecutive NCAA Regional appearances. “We feel we’ve prepared ourselves for this. When you look at the teams that are coming to Tallahassee, we’re impressed with every single one of them.”
All three opponents have made prior Tallahassee Regional appearances and faced the Seminoles, including UCF, which also dropped a pair of regular season games at Dick Howser Stadium last month. None, however, have visited in the postseason since 2007, when coach Mervyl Melendez’s Bethune-Cookman Wildcats made their fourth visit in eight seasons. Alabama’s last postseason trip to Tallahassee came in 1991, while UCF’s most recent postseason visit was in 2004.
“To be able to play at home in our backyard, we’re looking forward to that,” said FSU senior co-captain Stuart Tapley. “To have the great fans we have, it’s going to make it hard on these other teams coming in here.”
Tapley said he was confident the Seminoles had earned one of the top eight national seeds, based on the teams’ play down the stretch. And while he has a healthy respect for a regional field which includes three quality opponents he has never played against, he’s more concerned with helping FSU stay its recent course of success.
“We don’t necessarily play the other teams,” Tapley said. “We’re playing the game and we’re going out to play the game as if we are in Omaha. …. We’re just going out to play the best baseball we can play that day.”
The Seminoles are no strangers to the drill. They are making their 34th consecutive NCAA Regional appearance, which is the second-longest active streak nationally. It is also the programs’ 49th regional appearance in 64 seasons of baseball.
It’s a time of year the players embrace for any number of reasons.
“It’s pretty much all that matters to us,” senior co-captain Mike McGee said of the postseason. “We play the season to put us in this position now. …. It’s all what you do from here that matters. That’s what people care about.”
Junior pitcher Sean Gilmartin, a California native, is anxious to get a look at some different opponents.
“That is fun to see what other parts of the country have to offer in terms of their baseball,” Gilmartin said. “The teams coming in here have done things right, just to get here. It’s going be challenge.”
Tickets will go on sale Monday, May 30 at 5 p.m. Reserved seat tickets are $50, while general admission seats will go for $35. They can be purchased at www.seminoles.com on Monday. FSU’s ticket office will re-open Tuesday, following the holiday, and will be taking sales by phone (1-888-FSU-NOLE or 850-644-1830) or in person during its 8:30 a.m-5 p.m. hours.
Florida State will only sell all-regional passes until Thursday night. Individual game tickets for the first two games will go on sale Thursday at 6 p.m. via Seminoles.com, with the next set of games on sale the night before the second-day contests once opponents have been determined.