Gators earned their way into tourney, O’Sullivan says

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Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan talks with his team in the dugout at McKethan Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Kevin O’Sullivan felt pretty good last week about Florida’s chances to get into the NCAA baseball tournament.

Then came Sunday.

Bids were being stolen around the country by surprise winners of conference tournaments and O’Sullivan started feeling nervous again.

“Yesterday was not a good day for us,” he said.

Monday was a different story.

The Gators got in comfortably (they were not among the last four in according to the selection committee) and will travel to Lubbock, Texas, for the regional there.

Florida’s three-game sweep of Missouri to end the regular season got the Gators into the field for the 12th straight time under O’Sullivan.

“It’s not like we backed in,” he said. “We went on the road and won that series at Missouri. And it just goes to show you that playing a tough schedule helped us.”

Florida (33-24) will play Dallas Baptist (41-18) — DBU against DBU, right? — in the first round Friday at 8 p.m. ET. Host Texas Tech (39-17) will play Army (35-24) in the 4 p.m. game of the double-elimination tournament.

O’Sullivan was happy just to get in the tournament and see what happens. This has been an uneven season for the Gators, who were 13-17 in the SEC and 5-1 against Miami and Florida State.

“It’s been a frustrating year,” O’Sullivan said. “Hopefully, we’re catching form right now.”

Dallas Baptist is making its eighth regional appearance in the last nine years.

“They’re good, very well coached,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s going to be an offensive ballpark because the wind is always blowing out there.

“I’m going to tell the players this — it boils down to how we play.”

The SEC had four of the eight national seeds who could host all the way to Omaha — Vanderbilt, Georgia, Arkansas and Mississippi State. Ole Miss and LSU will also host regionals.

In all, 10 SEC teams made the tournament.

Florida State was one of the last four teams put in by the selection committee to keep coach Mike Martin’s long career still alive and put the Seminoles in the tournament for the 42nd straight year. Miami also made the field, as did Florida A&M.

NCAA Lubbock Regional

At Rip Griffin Park, Lubbock, Texas

Friday

Game 1 — Army (35-24) at Texas Tech (39-17), 4 p.m.

Game 2 — Florida (33-24) vs. Dallas Baptist (41-18), 8 p.m.

Saturday

Game 3 — Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser

Game 4 — Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner

Sunday

Game 5 — Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser

Game 6 — Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner

Monday

Game 7 if necessary — Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner


10 COMMENTS

  1. This team has had quite a bit of time since the A & M game to regroup and work on fundamentals at all positions as well as tweaking their offensive approach, which has been uncharacteristically offensive this season.

    Being in a regional is great experience for our young players, an obvious plus. Tech is clearly the favorite here, and even though they swept UK in three in Feb., I don’t look at their schedule and see it being tougher than ours. DBU is probably sneaky good. Hope they’re not the next Coastal Carolina!

    Army is Patriot League champs and played OOC teams like Fairleigh Dickinson, Stoney Brook, Hofstra. They did play at LSU, losing 6-5 and played five games in Texas, vs Houston and Stephen F. Austin, but Army won’t be pushovers.

    Overall, I like us being in this regional while I was hoping to get in to any regional at all. I like our chances.

    Go Gators!

    • SHP, you seem as knowledgeable as any fan here, so I’ll ask you this question in my admitted ignorance. If an underdog upsets a Top 8 seed in the regional, does that underdog automatically host the super regional, or does it depend upon the seeding of the winner of the opposing regional? I know it doesn’t happen often, so I’m just wondering in case the Gators pull it off.

      • National seeds 1-8 cannot meet each other in the super regional and are guaranteed to host. If the higher national seed in the bracket is eliminated in the regional stage, but the lower national seed advances, the super regional will be played at the national seeded team’s field. If the two seeds are not national seeds, the Super Regional will be bid upon by the two competing teams. If the national seed wins the regional but is unable to host, the Super Regional is awarded to the other regional winner in its bracket.