Perhaps a call Gator baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan should make is to Mike Martin. After a short and embarrassing stay at the College World Series, O’Sullivan needs to talk to someone who understands.
The top-ranked Gators were favorites to win it all this year with the nation’s best pitching staff and a good supporting cast. Eight of their players were chosen by major league clubs in this month’s draft.
Those lofty expectations came crashing down when Florida managed to score a grand total of three runs in those two games. Texas Tech eliminated the Gators 3-2 on Tuesday.
“It’s hard to lose 3-2 and 2-1 and look at our guys in the locker room and think this season was a failure,” said O’Sullivan. “If getting to Omaha is a failure then, well, I don’t look at it that way.”
How many times has Martin had to make a similar case after Florida State came up short in the College World Series? For those keeping score, the answer is 15 since 1980.
Some thought Florida had enough to win last year, but Virginia stole the show. Unlike this year, Florida scored in double figures in three of their CWS in 2015 but still came up short.
Martin can more than relate to O’Sullivan’s disappointment. The past two years it was O’Sullivan’s Gators that kept Martin and FSU from making two more trips to Omaha.
O’Sullivan has done a wonderful job with this program. He has taken them to the College World Series five times during his nine season in Gainesville.
In 2012, the Gators were again the top seed. Again they were eliminated in only two games. Florida is now the only school to be the top national seed to twice go 0-2 at the College World Series.
Like Martin, O’Sullivan knows coaches do not go into slumps, or make big errors, or make a bad pitch. Coaches are also along for the ride when their players do outstanding things on the field.
There is no better example of the latter than the final play on Tuesday that ended the Gators’ dreams. After fighting back to cut a 3-0 deficit to 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Jonathan India was cut down at second on a perfect throw from Texas Tech left fielder Tyler Naslony to end the game.
Why would O’Sullivan want to call Martin? Who else has brought multiple teams to Omaha with high expectations only to return home to Florida to relive the pain of what might have been?
No one knows the feeling better than “11” as he is known around FSU. Despite the rivalry, there is no question Martin would take the call.