Gator Baseball Receives #1 Overall Seed For Tourney

Sure, baseball is nowhere near as exciting as football or even basketball. But it’s still fun to watch, particularly when your team is good. And so in the case of the Florida Gators, it’s awesome because they’ve seemingly got it all: hitting, pitching and defense. And, you know, wins to back it all up.

Though they have certainly had their struggles at times this year, the Gators all in all proved themselves to be the best team in the regular season, which as the previous 12 #1 overall tournament seeds will tell you means nothing. But even on their worst day, the dynasty that Kevin O’Sullivan has built in Gainesville is exciting to watch, because their powerful lineup is always a threat to break out.

Which brings us to where the Gators sit now: #1 overall, hosting Georgia Tech, College of Charleston and Bethune Cookman in the Gainesville Regional. This is the fourth straight year the Gators have hosted a regional, which is something to be proud of. However, the Gators have not gotten the prize that they’ve always coveted: the national championship. Is this the year?

The Gators have progressed one step in each year that O’Sullivan has been in Gainesville. In his first year, 2008, the Gators lost in the Tallahassee Regional. His second year was better, but the Gators dropped the Super Regional to Southern Miss. 2010 came along, and a popular preseason national champion pick went two and out in Omaha, losing to UCLA and FSU. And then there was last year, when the Gators were supposedly the team to beat, no questions asked. And they seemed it- until they dropped two straight in the championship series to South Carolina.

So the question is brought up again: is this year’s team ready to take that final step?

On paper, sure. It’s simple when you just look at stats. Preston Tucker and Mike Zunino provide the best 3-4 combo in the nation. The pitching is great, and defensively, the Gators are solid all around.

History would say no. The last #1 overall seed to win it all was Miami, in 1999.

So it’s a tie, and the way to break a tie is to find out on the field.

There are some troubling signs, though. The Gators appeared to be napping when Vanderbilt pulled off a triple steal en route to a 5 run 9th inning to steal the SEC semifinal game from under the Gators’ nose. Before that, though, Austin Maddox, the closer, let them on base so that they could steal in the first place. Before that game, Maddox had not been scored upon in 15 innings. The Gators also committed 2 errors in that game.

That’s not the performance you want to see right before the tournament. Or maybe it is- a great way for O’Sullivan to keep his guys hungry and make them aware that if these things don’t get fixed, the Gators may lose early.

I believe that’s exactly what will happen. This team has been through too much in previous years, they’ve lost too many close games and have seen too many promising seasons come to premature and heartbreaking ends.

The Gators open the tournament against Bethune Cookman on Friday at 7pm. College Of Charleston and Georgia Tech play before them at 1. The winners play the winners on Saturday at 7pm, and the losers play the losers at 1pm. The 1-1 teams play each other on Sunday at noon, and the winner of that plays the 2-0 team 30 minutes after. If the 2-0 team loses, the championship game will be on Monday at 7pm. All games of this region will be available on ESPN3 and watch ESPN online.

The winner of this region will play the winner of the Raleigh Regional, which has NC State, Vanderbilt, UNC Wilmington and Sacred Heart for a trip to Omaha.

We’ll find out early how well Florida appears to be suited for another title run.