April 12, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The opportunity to ease the sting of a rare home Atlantic Coast Conference series loss comes with an added bonus Tuesday night at Dick Howser Stadium.
Mike Martin’s eighth-ranked Florida State baseball team has a chance to secure its second consecutive, four-game season series against fourth-ranked Florida. The Seminoles (23-9, 9-6 ACC) lead the season series 2-1, winning two neutral site games – in Tampa and Jacksonville – and falling in Gainesville.
“After you lose two out of three to North Carolina, it [Florida game] means a lot,” said Martin.
Beyond state bragging rights, a 3-1 regular season series win would significantly bolster Florida State’s postseason resume. The Seminoles pulled off that feat a year ago, then tacked on an elimination game victory over the Gators in the College World Series.
“It would help with the postseason, with RPI and strength of schedule,” said senior catcher Rafael Lopez. “We’ve got to come ready to play.”
Florida State has had its share of success against coach Kevin Sullivan’s Gators of late, winning five of the last six and seven of the last 10.
Florida (26-7, 9-3 SEC) has its own similar motivation. The Gators have won three of four conference series, spent the entire season ranked among the top five – including an extended stint at No. 1 – and are eager to get back to the CWS.
Seminoles’ junior right-hander Hunter Scantling (1-0, 1.33) will make his third consecutive start against Florida, which will counter with left-hander Alex Panteliodis (2-0, 4.05).
“It will be real big to get back feeling right; get the confidence back in your team and momentum going your way,” FSU senior slugger Mike McGee said of the rivalry game at hand. “Everyone’s looking forward to it.”
Six of the top 20 crowds in Howser Stadium team have come with the Gators in the visiting dugout. Tuesday night’s game is expected to follow suit, especially after the last two meetings. The two schools played in front of the second largest crowd (10,078) to watch a college baseball game in the state with the Seminoles prevailed 5-2 at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville just two weeks ago. The previous meeting between the teams in Gainesville also set a stadium record for the Gators.
First pitch is set for 6 p.m. and while there is no television coverage, the game will be broadcast through Seminoles.com All-Access.