In one last sighting before the NCAA Regionals open in Tallahassee, Fla., the head coaches of Florida State, Alabama, Troy, and Savannah State got together to exchange kind words and various memories of one another the day prior to the first pitch of any game. Each coach mentioned how grateful they, as well as their teams, were to be playing in the post season while also pushing forward the notion that anything is possible in the field of 64.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “It’s been fun all year. We did go through kind of a tough stretch last week, but that’s the way this game is. Our guys have done a very good job of bouncing back. I don’t know what the future holds, but their attitude has been excellent throughout the week.”
After losing a close one to top overall seed North Carolina, the Seminoles went winless in the ACC Tournament against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Virginia with each loss coming off a homerun over the left field “Blue Monster.” Finishing 0-4 made it a mystery as to whether or not the Garnet and Gold would be a national seed. It didn’t help that NC State was hot on their tails, barely missing out on an ACC Tournament Championship Game berth after falling to UNC 2-1 in the 18 inning marathon.
Having a lot on their minds, FSU took the long bus ride back from Durham, N.C., not knowing whether or not they would have the chance to host up to Omaha. When the Selection Show finally made the announcement Monday afternoon, the Seminoles wound up as the No. 7 National Seed.
Still, with the finish to the season, the Seminoles knew things had to change if they have any shot at bringing home the school’s first national championship.
“We’ve had a very good workout session,” Martin said of this past week. “We’ve gone over some things that we needed to touch on. When you get in the season, you very seldom have a chance to practice. This was one time that we took advantage and went out and got some things done.”
The first step on the way back to the College World Series will come tomorrow evening when Florida State faces Savannah State. The Tigers (33-21) enter the Tallahassee Regional as the MEAC Champions and boast an impressive righty in Kyle McGowin.
McGowin, although pitching against Mid-Major competition, holds a 12-1 record with a 1.33 ERA in 16 appearances. He also holds four complete games and struck out 129. Batters are .215 against McGowin this season.
“[McGowin] is highly competitive,” Martin said of the Savannah State starter. “He’s not a guy to lose his cool. He’s an experienced guy. There is no question that he likes to finish what he starts. He is going to get out there and battle you as long as he possibly can. Looking at the number of pitches he has thrown, he believes in finishing what he starts.”
Pitching in front of the biggest audience this season, and probably of his career, McGowin gets to face another special pitcher in Scott Sitz.
Since moving to the starting rotation after his tremendous postseason performance last year, Sitz has been one of the most consistent pitchers for Florida State. He currently leads all Seminole starters in ERA (1.73), earned runs allowed (16), and is tied for the most wins (9). However, his numbers are partially inflated due to the defense behind him. Sitz has allowed 33 runs to come in which puts him third amongst the four starters.
If the hype behind both pitchers holds, fans can expect a low scoring game. At the same time, Savannah State will be playing in their toughest environment to date with some of the players already comparing it to professional baseball.
The postseason action starts tomorrow at noon between Alabama and Troy with Florida State facing off against Savannah State at 5 p.m. at Dick Howser Stadium.