Task At Hand

While FSU was selected Monday as the top seed for the 64-team Division I college baseball tournament for the second straight season, nothing is assured this time of year. Click here to read the Noles' thoughts on upcoming regional play at Howser Stadium. "When you look at the bracket this year and see those three teams in your regional and a possibility of playing Texas in the Super Regional, you know you have your work cut out for you," said Matt Lynch, who will start in Friday's opener.

While Florida State was selected Monday as the top seed for the 64-team Division I college baseball tournament for the second straight season, Seminole catcher Tony Richie says all teams stand on equal footing this time of year.

"It doesn't matter what our seed or ranking is going into the tournament," Richie said Monday afternoon.

"That doesn't get you to the College World Series. Everyone that got in is equal with everyone else right now. We know we have to go out this weekend and beat three good teams and then win two out of three against a team like Texas or Arkansas to get to Omaha."

The Seminoles (50-10-1), making their 41st tournament appearance and 26th in a row, will host one of 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals that begin Friday. The winners of each regional will advance to the super regionals, played June 6-9. The eight winners of the super regionals will play in the College World Series, which starts June 13 in Omaha, Neb.

FSU returned home Monday morning around 6:30 following Sunday's disappointing defeat to Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament in Salem, Va. The Seminoles squandered a three-run advantage in the ninth inning and the Yellow Jackets went onto defeat North Carolina State for the championship.

That's all a moot point, according to Richie. The Seminoles open play against state neighbor and fourth-seeded Jacksonville at 3 p.m., while No. 2 seed South Alabama (40-17) will play third seeded Rutgers (36-20).

"The loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament was disappointing, but that's behind us now," Richie said.

"I don't think we needed to use that as extra motivation going into regionals. The only motivation we need is the fact that we haven't been to Omaha in the last two years and that should be enough.

"Looking at all the brackets around the country, I think all the regionals are tough and ours is no different. There are so many good teams in college baseball. With the three teams in our bracket there are no easy wins. JU has gotten hot down the stretch and they are a team that can beat anybody on any given day. We know South Alabama has a good program and they played us tough last year."

FSU was also the tournament's top seed last season, but lost to Notre Dame in the super regionals. The Seminoles have been College World Series runners-up three times, but have never won the national championship.

The NCAA Regional in Tallahassee is paired with the NCAA Regional in Austin, Texas, hosted by the University of Texas. Texas (43-17) is the No. 1 seed in the regional and will play fourth-seeded Bucknell (27-14) in the first round. Arkansas (34-20) is the No. 2 in the regional at Austin and will play third-seeded Lamar (37-16).

Defending national champion Texas, hosting a regional for 32nd time, has won five national titles - including consecutive championships in 1949-50. The Longhorns are also trying to join Southern California (1970-74), Stanford (1987-88) and Louisiana State (1996-97) as repeat winners.

TASK AT HAND

FSU coach Mike Martin announced Monday that senior Matt Lynch, who beat Duke to open ACC Tourney play, will start against Jacksonville. Trent Peterson will start the Seminoles' second game. Lynch (12-3) pitched eight innings against the Bl.ue Devils and gave up only six hits while walking two and striking out seven.

"I think we have three pretty good teams coming in for the regional," Lynch said.

"We've played Jacksonville and they have a solid pitcher that we will probably see and he is a guy that can beat you. We played South Alabama last year and they can hit the ball. I don't know that much about Rutgers, but they've had some good talent there recently."

Lynch believes the Seminoles' defeat against Tech could prove beneficial heading into the NCAA Tournament.

"I think the loss to Georgia Tech on Sunday was a wake up call," Lynch said.

"Last year, we had the winning streak going into the postseason and felt really good about our chances after the regional of getting past Notre Dame and making it to Omaha. When you look at the bracket this year and see those three teams in your regional and a possibility of playing Texas in the Super Regional, you know you have your work cut out for you. You don't look past the defending national champions."

The other national seeds are: Louisiana State (40-19-1), Georgia Tech (44-16), Auburn (40-19), Rice (48-10), Stanford (41-15), Cal State Fullerton (43-13) and Miami (39-14-1). By being national seeds, the teams are assured of not playing each other until they reach the College World Series.

The Southeastern Conference has a tournament-high eight representatives with Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

The Atlantic Coast Conference - with Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and North Carolina State - and Big 12 - with Baylor, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Texas A&M - were next with five teams each.

Miami is making its 31st straight appearance to extend its NCAA record.

"I think we have an excellent field," FSU coach Mike Martin said.

"This is definitely one of the strongest of the 16 regionals when you take a look at all of them across the country. Obviously, I'm very proud of this team earning the top seed. That's our goal very year and I'm very proud of each of our young men. They know that no matter what the seed, we will have to play solid baseball in the regional to reach our goal."

Martin also added that third baseman Eddy Martinez-Esteve, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury, will be re-evaluated this week. Esteve returned to his home in Miami last week for treatment.


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