FSU opens NCAA Super Regionals today vs. Vandy

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- For the third year in a row and for the 10th time in school history, Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium will play host to an NCAA Super Regional as the action begins today when Florida State (45-17) hosts Vanderbilt (45-18) with the first pitch scheduled for noon on ESPN2.

The Seminoles and Commodores will square off for the first time ever in postseason play as the two schools have met just three times before -- with all three meetings coming in Tallahassee back in 1972.

Today's game also marks Florida State's 33rd consecutive trip to the NCAA Regional, which is the second-longest streak in the nation behind only Miami (38).

However, it's no secret that FSU has never won a College World Series title in coach Mike Martin's 29-year reign in Tallahassee.

And Martin, like last year -- and the year before that, and the year before that -- hopes this is finally the time for his team to break through.

"We've got a ballclub that plays well together," Martin said Thursday during media day for the Super Regional.

Martin named a pair of sophomore lefties as his starters: Sean Gilmartin (8-7, 4.74) will pitch the opener with Brian Busch (5-1, 4.24) up in game two.

Sophomore third baseman Jason Esposito led Vandy's offense this season with a .359 batting average to go with 10 home runs, 59 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases in 34 attempts. Left-handed hitting Aaron Westlake clubbed 14 home runs and drove in 58 for Vanderbilt.

The Seminoles' 1-2 punch comes from junior outfielders Tyler Holt and Mike McGee, who doubles as Martin's closer.

Holt led the Seminoles with a .349 average and scored 79 runs while also stealing 29 bases in 31 tries. McGee hit a team-high 14 home runs and drove in 67 besides 11 saves after claiming the closer's role early in the season.

"Holt is a guy who goes about his business and makes sure everybody else goes about theirs," Martin said. "He's played in a College World Series; he's played in super regionals."

Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin credits a weeklong trip to Japan in late November for jump-starting a young Commodore baseball team now just a pair of wins away from its first trip to the College World Series.

Vanderbilt (45-18) came out of the loser's bracket to knock off top-seed Louisville is last week's regional round and advance. The host Seminoles (45-17) swept through their region in Norwich, Conn., with three straight wins to advance.

Overall, this is Florida State's 48th NCAA Regional, which is the second-most ever, trailing only Texas. The Seminoles and Longhorns are the only two schools to make 40 or more tournament appearances.