0

FSU baseball earns No. 7 national seed in NCAA Tournament

Florida State’s Giovanny Alfonzo, left, backs up infielder Casey Smit on a ground ball during a game against Virginia in the ACC Tournament. The Seminoles are the seventh overall seed in the nation in the NCAA Tournament.

Florida State’s Giovanny Alfonzo, left, backs up infielder Casey Smit on a ground ball during a game against Virginia in the ACC Tournament. The Seminoles are the seventh overall seed in the nation in the NCAA Tournament.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The NCAA announced on Monday the field of 64 for the 2013 NCAA Baseball Championship, and Florida State earned an at-large bid out of the Atlantic Coast Conference after finishing the regular season with 44 victories and winners of the ACC Atlantic Division for the seventh year in a row.

“We are just very excited to be where we are at,” FSU head coach Mike Martin said. “I’m sure there were a lot of tough decisions that the committee had to make but we are just very, very pleased and proud to be where we are and it’s a credit to our young men.”

The Seminoles, who earned the No. 7 overall national seed, will serve as the No. 1 seed in the Tallahassee Regional and will be joined by No. 2 Alabama (34-26), No. 3 Troy (40-18) and No. 4 Savannah State (33-21). Play begins Friday.

“There is no way that I can say that I was confident that we would be a top eight seed,” added Martin. “I’m appreciative of the body of work that was put forth as the committee perused over many, many different facts and figures. There is no question in my mind that the major emphasis should be on what you accomplish through the first 56 games.”

Florida State is making its 36th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Baseball Tournament and 51st overall, including 34 straight appearances under Martin. The Seminoles have posted an overall record of 174-113 in NCAA Tournament play.

The Seminoles open the tournament at 5 p.m. Friday against Savannah State, which finished the regular season with a record of 33-21 and received an automatic bid by virtue of winning its first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship.

Savannah State completes this year’s four-team field earning the No. 4 seed in the Tallahassee Regional. The Tigers finished the regular season with a record of 33-21 and received an automatic bid by virtue of winning their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship.

Florida State and Savannah State have met seven times before with the Seminoles leading the all-time series at 6-1. The two schools have not met since 2008.

“Savannah State’s pitcher (Kyle McGowin) is the real deal and so is that ball club,” Martin said. “This is not a fake; you don’t accomplish what they did by being an average team. Carlton Hardy is a friend at Savannah State and they have come in here and beaten us before. In fact, one day they beat us 10-2, so this is not a fly-by-the-night group. They know how to play. They beat a very good Bethune-Cookman team to get here.”

The national top eight seeds in order are North Carolina (52-8), Vanderbilt (51-9), Oregon State (45-10), LSU (52-9), Cal State Fullerton (48-8), Virginia (47-10), Florida State and Oregon (45-14).

TECH OPENS WITH ILLINOIS: Georgia Tech has earned its 29th all-time berth in the NCAA Tournament, and the Yellow Jackets are the No. 2-seed in Nashville and will face No. 3-seed Illinois on Friday at 2 p.m.

“I’m very proud of our NCAA tradition,” said head coach Danny Hall, who has led Tech to the NCAA Tournament 18 times in his 20 years on the Flats. “It’s a tremendous accomplish and I’m very proud of our team. That will be four very good teams in the Vanderbilt Regional and it’ll be something that we look forward to.

“We’re going to have to do some work to see what Illinois is all about. Obviously they must be good. They have a very good RPI, so they’ve played a good schedule, and we’ll have to be ready to go on Friday.”

The Jackets are 3-1 all-time versus Illinois but have not played the Illini since 1930. Tech last met Vanderbilt during the 2006 Atlanta Regional, and took two games from the Commodores en route to a regional title and ultimately the College World Series. The all-time Vandy series favors Tech, 58-35-1. All-time versus East Tennessee State, the Jackets are 23-1.

“We’re all pretty excited for the opportunity to play another good team,” said junior catcher Zane Evans. “Their (Illinois) RPI’s in the 30 so they’re going to be a good ball club. Any team in it at this point is going to be a good ball club, so we’ve got to go out there and play well every game.”

Tech has appeared in six consecutive NCAA Regionals, in 27 of the last 29 and in 29 all time. Over the last 29 years, only the 29 appearances by Florida State and Miami lead Tech’s 27 berths in that span.

Tech is 65-57 (.533) in NCAA Tournament action, that includes a 4-5 record in three trips to the College World Series (1994, 2002 and 2006). Away from Russ Chandler Stadium, the Jackets are 37-38 (.493) in the NCAA postseason, including the CWS.

MERCER MAKES HISTORY: For the first time in program history, the Mercer Bears baseball team was selected as an at-large team for the NCAA Tournament.

Mercer (43-16) won the A-Sun regular-season title but came up short in the A-Sun tournament. The Bears, however, earned a spot in the NCAA tournament by being sent to Mississippi State for the regional round.

The Bears will open against South Alabama.