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Florida State tries to stay in hunt to host regional

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As college baseball’s regular season winds to a close this weekend, the state of Florida will play host to two important series beginning Thursday. Four of the nation’s top 12 teams will meet in a pair of three-game series.

Third-ranked Miami is in Tallahassee to take on No. 12 Florida State while top-ranked Florida hosts No. 8 LSU. Florida State carries the greatest risk of harm based upon their success, or lack thereof, this weekend.

The possibility actually exists that Dick Howser Stadium could be hosting its final game of the season on Saturday. Florida State is normally a lock to be seeded no worse than 16th and host an NCAA regional, but these are not normal times.

A young FSU team comes into the weekend as losers of four of their last five games. These include two losses to Duke and one to Florida Gulf Coast and another to Jacksonville. They lost two of three games in their final three conference series on the road.

On the positive side, FSU swept a good Notre Dame team and took two of three from fourth-ranked Louisville at home in April. The Seminoles are only 5-5 in May.

If the Florida State team of April shows up this weekend, FSU should be able to win at least two games from Miami. That should be good enough to host a regional.

Losing two of three against such a quality opponent should also keep their hopes alive unless Florida State would lay an egg in the ACC Tournament. Being swept this weekend might force them to win the tournament next week.

Miami has already clinched the top seed in the Coastal Division with a 19-6 conference mark. Florida State actually has an outside chance of winning the Atlantic Division.

Florida State has a conference record of 15-8 while Louisville is 19-8 (FSU had four games rained out). The Cardinals play at Wake Forest this weekend.

No matter what happens this weekend, there is no similar drama in Gainesville. Florida will have a high seed in the NCAA Tournament even if they would have a rough weekend.

The Gators are playing to not only hold their No. 1 national ranking, but also to claim the SEC East title. Florida, with an 18-8 conference record, holds a one-game lead over South Carolina, who travels to Alabama for three games. Florida and South Carolina split two games three weeks ago.

The winners of both the SEC and ACC conference tournaments will have earned it. According to baseball’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), 14 of the top 15 teams are from either the SEC or ACC. Each conference has seven.

Florida’s post season plans will not likely depend on tournament success. Depending on what happens this weekend in Tallahassee, the ACC Tournament could decide whether FSU will join Miami and Florida as regional hosts.

 

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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