Regional Dominance Not New Under O'Sullivan

What happened on Sunday night at McKethan Stadium shouldn't have been a surprise. It's what the Gators have done in home Regionals since Kevin O'Sullivan took over. Florida improved to 12-0 in Regional games in the past four years, with all of those coming at home. Regional dominance, especially in the Regional final, has become a tradition in Gainesville.

"It's nice when you're in the winner's bracket," said senior outfielder Daniel Pigott, who has played in the last three Regional finals. "You're in the driver's seat. You know that you have the depth that other teams don't have. It's definitely nice to get it out of the way on the Sunday game and not have to worry about playing in another game.

"There's motivation in that knowing that if you win, you don't have to play another game and use more pitching."

The 12-0 record is impressive, but what's even more eye-popping is how Florida has been so successful. The Regional Finals haven't been close. In the four times Florida has played in the final game of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, the big game atmosphere has been eliminated with a blowout victory.

After Sunday's win over Georgia Tech, the Gators have won their last four Regional finals by a combined score of 57-12. Two of those blowout wins came over Miami, who haunted the dreams of Florida fans after the Gators were eliminated by the Hurricanes multiple years before O'Sullivan took the job.

On Sunday, it was another ACC opponent—Georgia Tech.

The Regional Finals all have a similar characteristic. It's the big innings that fuel Florida. In each of the last four Regional Finals, the Gators have let an inning of at least six runs spark the offense.

On Sunday, it was a seven-run fifth inning that put the game out of reach. It was slow and methodical as the Gators pounded out a 15-1 lead when the inning came to the end after nine batters. Every Florida hitter had reached base by the end of the fifth inning.

"In games like this, momentum is everything," O'Sullivan said. "The first night after (the win over) Bethune-Cookman, we had all the young guys up here (at the press conference). The next night, it was all the older guys to my right. I was thinking about that driving home last night."

The pitching performances make it easier to blow through a Regional. With the pitching depth O'Sullivan has built in Gainesville during his five years, it's not tough to figure out why his teams can keep opposing offenses down.

"Number one, stay in the winner's bracket," O'Sullivan said to the key on breezing through Regionals. "The other thing is we've had a lot of pitching depth. We've probably had more depth than other teams."

The two Miami wins in Regional finals—sandwiched around a 15-0 beating of Florida Atlantic—totaled 27-9 beatings of the Hurricanes.

The result of the Regional success is four straight berths in the Super Regionals—the college baseball equivalent of the Sweet 16. Next weekend, the Gators will play for a third straight trip to the College World Series.

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