June 2, 2000 - by

State Rivals Battle For Trip To Omaha

June 2, 2000



By MARK LONG

AP Sports Writer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Miami and Florida State are meeting earlier than expected this postseason
and sooner than either team wanted. The national championship, won last year by
Miami, isn’t on the line, just a chance to play for one is.

The Hurricanes and Seminoles begin a best-of-three series Friday night in
Tallahassee in one of the eight NCAA super regional series. The winner advances
to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. and the loser stays home for the
first time in recent years.

“This will always be a big rivalry no matter what’s at stake,” said
right-hander David Gil, Miami’s Game 1 starter who has won 23 of his last 25
starts. “But it’s all about going to Omaha now. We have to go out and play
like the defending national champions.”

The other best-of-three series, which begin Friday and continue through
Sunday if necessary, feature Louisiana-Lafayette (45-17) at South Carolina
(55-8), Mississippi State (41-18) at Clemson (48-16), Southern California
(41-18) at Georgia Tech (50-14), San Jose State (39-21) at Houston (47-16),
UCLA (38-24) at LSU (46-17), Penn State (45-17) at Texas (44-19), and Nebraska
(50-15) at Stanford (45-14).

Miami beat Florida State 6-5 in last year’s title game, sending the
Seminoles home without a championship for the 17th time in as many appearances
at the College World Series.

The Hurricanes (40-17-1) have been to Omaha six straight seasons, Florida
State (49-16) has made the trip five of the last six years and 10 of the last
14, but still has the most appearances in the College World Series without
winning a title.

That adds up to two perennial powerhouses and two longtime rivals playing
for one spot in the eight-team CWS field.

“It’s a tremendous thing for college baseball,” said Seminoles coach Mike
Martin, who will start right-hander Blair Varnes against the Hurricanes. “It
will be a weekend to remember. What could be more exciting?”

Perhaps a rematch in Omaha.

“It’s a little disappointing that we’re playing,” Miami coach Jim Morris
said. “We played for the national championship last year, and you would hope
that if you played them again, it would be in that same type of situation in
Omaha.”

The Hurricanes have won 10 of their last 11 games and have won 12 in a row
in the postseason. Their last tournament loss was June 2, 1998, against Long
Beach State.

They went 9-0 last year and swept through their regional bracket last
weekend, outscoring their opponents 44-14 in three games.

“We have a lot of confidence right now,” Miami outfielder Kevin Brown
said. “We know the super regionals are a good time to step it up, and we’re on
a roll going up to Florida State.”

Florida State, meanwhile, has rebounded from a late-season slide. The ‘Noles
lost 10 of their final 19 games before regional play. But eight of those losses
came against teams still alive in the tournament – Clemson, Georgia Tech and
Miami.

Penn State, noted more for football than baseball, will go to Texas without
its coach, Joe Hindelang, who had a mild heart attack on Wednesday.

Hindelang, 54, has been told not to travel for two weeks, so if the Nittany
Lions should advance, he may not be able to make it to the College World
Series. Assistant coach Randy Ford will replace him.

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