History on tap for baseball at Florida Four tonight


Published: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 11:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 11:32 p.m.

History will be made today when the baseball teams from Florida, Florida State, Miami and South Florida get together for the inaugural Florida Four at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. The event, which is co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and the New York Yankees, culminates an idea that has been in the works for several years.

Facts

Florida Four

Who: No. 11 Miami (5-1) vs. South Florida (1-5), 4 p.m. today
No. 2 Florida State (6-0) vs. No. 5 Florida (5-0), following the first game
Where: George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa
Gainesville TV: Cox Cable, Ch. 21. UF-FSU game only.
Radio: AM 850.
Pitching matchup: FSU — Junior right-hander Geoff Parker (0-0, 11.25). UF — Sophomore right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (0-0, 0.00)

"We couldn't be more excited than to be welcoming these four teams to Steinbrenner Field," said Rob Higgins, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. "It's really in partnership with the New York Yankees, and our hats are off to both them as well as the Steinbrenner family, our board of directors at the sports commission and the Tampa Bay Convention Bureau for putting together what should be a historic day and night of college baseball.

"Certainly the vision starting a couple of years ago was to build an event that hopefully would showcase four of not only the top teams in the state but in the entire country, and in the most recent rankings, the fact that three of the teams are in the top 10 in the country from a poll standpoint certainly speaks to the strength of the state of college baseball here. We're looking forward to what should be special day of baseball, and we couldn't be more excited."

Today's event features a doubleheader starting with a game between No. 11 Miami (5-1) and USF (1-5), with first pitch set for 4:05 p.m. The No. 5 Gators (5-0) will then square off against the No. 2 Seminoles (6-0) following a short intermission.

"I can truly speak on the Steinbrenner family's behalf as well as the New York Yankees in that we're really looking forward to this event," said Howard Grosworth, Vice-President of Marketing for the New York Yankees. "It's an exciting day to be able to bring these top four universities in the state together for this event, and I know the community outreach has been excited about this event, both locally and in the communities of the universities. This is something we've been working on for quite some time, and we're really looking forward to Tuesday night."

The nightcap between the Seminoles and Gators will be a clash of unbeatens who both have the potential to reach this year's College World Series. FSU enters tonight's contest averaging 11.2 runs per game and has scored in double digits in all six outings, while strong starting pitching has energized UF thus far.

"We're awfully excited to be playing down in Tampa in this tournament with four great teams," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We have a great deal of respect for coach (Mike) Martin, his staff and his players, and it's always a great game when we match up. We have a lot of Yankees fans on our team, so I know they're looking forward to playing down there."

Said Martin: "We are proud to be a part of this. There's some outstanding baseball played in that area, so we're very honored to be there."

Sophomore Anthony DeSclafani (0-0) is scheduled to start on the mound for the Gators tonight and will be opposed by FSU sophomore Geoff Parker (0-0).

This is the third straight season UF has started off 5-0 under O'Sullivan. A win tonight would give the Gators their first 6-0 start since 2002.

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