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Colleges

Good news for UF, FSU, UM

All three are No. 1 seeds in their regions: 'Noles and 'Canes host at home, while Gators travel to Oklahoma.

By ANTONYA ENGLISH and BRIAN LANDMAN, Times staff writers
Published June 1, 2004

GAINESVILLE - Florida received the No. 1 seed in the Oklahoma region and Florida State and Miami were among 16 chosen Monday as host sites for the NCAA baseball regions.

The Gators (40-20) play No. 4 seed Central Connecticut State (41-15-1) at 4 p.m. Friday at SBC Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. It is its 22nd region appearance and a school-record fifth straight. No. 2 Oklahoma (37-22) plays No. 3 UCLA (33-27) at 8.

The Gators are one of a record nine SEC teams in the field of 64. The league had eight teams in 2001 and 2003.

"Playing ourselves into a No. 1 seed is a great compliment to our ballclub and we're very proud of that," said Florida coach Pat McMahon, who told his players shortly after the announcement they had a new chance to play for some respect. "Having said that, it's a new season. Out of 288 teams that started the quest this season, 64 remain. ... I think it speaks an awful lot about our RPI, our strength of schedule and how much this club has accomplished by how hard they've played."

Miami (44-11), making its 32nd consecutive appearance, is the national No. 3 seed and plays St. Bonaventure (29-20) at 7 in Coral Gables. Florida Atlantic (45-15) plays N.C. State (35-22) at 3:30.

Florida State, a region host for the eighth consecutive year and 23rd overall, is riding high despite suspect starting pitching.

The Seminoles have won 11 of 12, including their last two against Georgia Tech (the No. 4 national seed in the NCAA Tournament field), for the ACC title.

"This team showed me something this (past) weekend," coach Mike Martin said of his Seminoles, the top seed in their region. "To beat what was probably the hottest team in the country twice to win the ACC tournament was a great accomplishment, but we've got 24 hours to enjoy it and then we are back to practice (today) preparing for the regional."

FSU opens against No. 4 Bethune-Cookman College at 7 p.m., while No. 2 Oklahoma State, the Big 12 tournament champion in the NCAA field for the 29th time, meets No. 3 Central Florida at 3.

"Those are three outstanding teams," Martin said. "Oklahoma State and B-CC also won their conference tournaments, and UCF has been ranked in the top 25 for most of the season."

The Golden Knights, who lost in the finale of the Atlantic Sun tournament, feature a number of former bay area stars: junior outfielder Dee Brown (.360, 63 RBI) from Hernando High, and reserve pitchers Tim Bascom (4-3, 5.04 ERA) from Dunedin and Mike Billek (0-1, 6.41) of East Lake. UCF's trip to Tallahassee will be a homecoming for former Countryside infielder Kevin Richmond (.263), who transferred from FSU.

The winner advances to meet the winner of the Fayetteville Region, hosted by the national No. 8 seed Arkansas. Wichita State, Missouri and Le Moyne College round out that regional.

The Gators lost twice against Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament, but said they are confident.

"We're definitely excited," said Florida first baseman/outfielder C.J. Smith, a former Jesuit standout.

"We're a No. 1 seed, we're going to play in a great park. I think every facet of our game is going pretty well right now."

OF NOTE: A general admission tournament pass for the Tallahassee Region is $25, while a reserved grandstand seat for the tournament costs $40. Order by phone beginning today by calling toll-free 1-888-378-6653 (FSU-NOLE) or 1-850-644-6378 (64-GO-FSU), or visit seminoles.com.

[Last modified June 1, 2004, 01:00:29]


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