May 28, 1999 - by
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Citadel Preps for Tallahassee


Bulldogs regional may be toughest of them all.

May 28, 1999

Art Chase

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-Entering the 1999 NCAA Baseball Regional this weekend in Tallahassee, the
Providence College baseball has everything to gain and nothing to lose,
primarily because the members of the Friars 47-14 club have already lost.


When this season comes to a close for head coach Charlie Hickeys team,
Providence College will terminate the baseball program at the New England
institution with an enrollment of 3,661.


“We are the Cinderella story so to speak,” Hickey said at Thursdays press
conference for the head coaches playing in Tallahassees regional. “We are a
group that has been able to go out and play emotionally every day. Our
program will end when our season ends this year. I sit there in admiration of
our players. I dont think anything affects them. They just want to continue
having fun.”


The second-seeded Friars, who won the Big East Tournament championship
last weekend, take on third-seeded Jacksonville University, the tournament
champion of the Trans America Athletic Conference, Friday afternoon at 3
pm. Tomorrows nightcap at 7 pm features the host school, nationally
third-ranked Florida State, and The Citadel in a game that will be broadcast
live on WQSC 1340 AM in Charleston.


The Tallahassee Regional is the only regional out of 16 to boast all four
participants with 40 or more victories. Florida State is hosting an NCAA
Baseball Regional for the 15th time in the last 17 years.


Providence is led by sophomore first baseman Mike OKeefe, who enters the
postseason batting .349 with 12 home runs and 68 RBI.


“Mike is truly the heart and soul of our team,” Hickey said. “Not so much with
his numbers, but he brings us our toughness and determination.”


The Friars also have senior right-handed pitcher Marc DesRoaches, who
stands at 14-1 on the mound with a 2.70 ERA. DesRoaches, the Big East
Pitcher-of-the-Year, was named the MVP of the Big East Tournament after
earning victories over Seton Hall and St. Johns in a three-day span. Keith
Reed, a junior outfielder, carded league Player-of-the-Year accolades and is
batting .405 with 17 home runs and 74 RBI on the year.


For Jacksonville, the Dolphins relish a trip to Tallahassee for redemption. On
April 14, Florida State smashed Terry Alexanders club, 25-2, in
Jacksonville.


“Our guys wanted another chance at Florida State,” said Alexander, a Florida
State graduate. “We were embarrassed.”


After dropping seven straight games in early April, Jacksonvilles postseason
chances looked dim, but the Dolphins put things together and swept through
the TAAC Tournament unbeaten.


“We had to survive the middle of the season,” Alexander said. “We started off
very strong and then had some significant injuries. Were playing some of our
best baseball right now and thats where you want to be.”


The Dolphins, who have won seven out of their last eight and stand at 40-21
overall, are led by senior outfielder Kirk Asche, who is batting .363 with 18
doubles, 14 home runs and 53 RBI.


The Bulldogs, who arrived via bus in Tallahassee on Wednesday night, will
play in Tallahassee for the second time this year having dropped a pair of
four-run decisions to the Seminoles in the middle of March.


“Its good to be back in Tallahassee,” said head coach Fred Jordan, who
earned Southern Conference Coach-of-the-Year honors and has guided the
Bulldogs to a 41-18 record. “Were hoping that our pitching can keep us in
the game here. Theres not a whole lot of fear in our clubhouse.”


Junior lefty Rodney Hancock will pitch for the Bulldogs against Florida State
on Friday night. He stands at 10-4 on the year with a 2.40 ERA and 123
strikeouts in 109 innings.


“He is their nickname,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin stated. “Hes a
bulldog. Hes not afraid of any situation. If youre in a foxhole, you want him
in there with you.”


“The Citadel is a club that is very disciplined at the plate,” Martin continued.
“They make you beat them. When we played them earlier, I knew we were
going to have to earn everything we got. The top of the lineup puts a lot of
pressure on you. (Chris) Morris and (Tavy) Smalls are very talented players.
And (Philip) Hartig is a heck of a hitter. Hes got 17 home runs and he had 17
home runs last year. Its no fluke that theyre here.”


Hancock and the Bulldogs will have to contend with Seminole second
baseman Marshall McDougall, who set NCAA single-game records with six
home runs, 16 RBI and 25 total bases against Maryland earlier in the year.
McDougall earned ACC Player-of-the-Year honors and has 24 home runs
and 91 RBI to his credit in 1999.


“If he comes up in an RBI situation, well see if he can hit the 55-footer,”
Jordan said.


Florida State is making its 22nd consecutive appearance in the NCAA
Tournament and 37th overall. The Seminoles trail only Texas in postseason
berths as the Longhorns have 43 NCAA appearances under their belt.
Martins teams have advanced to the College World Series in nine of the last
13 seasons.


The 48-12 Seminoles are the only team in the regional which did not win its
conference tournament.


The winner of the regional is scheduled to meet the winner of the Auburn, AL
Regional, which includes top-seeded Tulane, second-seeded Auburn,
third-seeded North Carolina State and fourth-seeded Winthrop.

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