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FSU, Miami stay home for regionals

A record eight teams from Florida make the NCAA Baseball Tournament field.

Despite a subpar finish, Florida State's road to Omaha and the College World Series remains a likely one-stop trip.

FSU, already assured of hosting a regional this weekend, received one of the eight top national seeds for the 64-team tournament field that was announced Monday and undoubtedly would host a Super Regional if it advances.

Division I baseball committee chairman Dick Rockwell said it's not absolute that a national seed would stay at home for the Super Regional (where the 16 regional winners are paired off in best two-of-three series with those eight winners advancing to Omaha) but he added that his committee strives to reward the top teams.

"I do feel like this decision was justified," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "We've been tested with a very tough schedule."

The Seminoles (45-15), looking for their 18th CWS appearance and the title that has eluded them, open against Mid-Eastern Conference champion Bethune-Cookman College (33-27) at 7 p.m. Friday. Central Florida (41-17), the No. 2 seed in this regional, and Evansville (40-20) are the other two teams heading to Tallahassee.

Although Miami (37-17-1) hosts the opening round, beginning the double-elimination tournament against first-time participant Wagner, it was not one of the top eight national seeds and likely would travel to FSU for the Super Regional on June 2-4. The other top seeds are South Carolina, LSU, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Houston, Arizona State and Stanford.

"I was surprised," Miami senior ace David Gil said. "We're big-time rivals. People would rather see us (meet) in the College World Series than in the (Super) Regional."

Florida Atlantic and Florida International round out the Coral Gables regional. Florida plays San Jose State at Waco, Texas, and Stetson plays Auburn in Atlanta.

That gives the Sunshine State a record eight post-season teams, breaking the mark of 1997 when FSU, Miami, Florida, UCF, Stetson and FIU were joined by South Florida.

The Gators (41-21-1), who received one of 35 at-large bids, are the No. 2 seed in Waco.

"We feel like we're playing like a No. 1 seed, but we don't have a lot of control over that," said junior outfielder Matt Siegal, a product of Tampa's Gaither High. "As long as we keep playing like a No. 1 seed from the toughest conference in the country, we'll be in good shape."

That's a sentiment FSU's Martin shares.

His Seminoles were 4-6 down the stretch and were eliminated by Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference semifinals. They are No. 10 in the Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America polls.

"I do think we can put it all together," Martin said. "I hope and pray we can get back out there again and see what happens. I think our ballclub has a great grasp of the game of baseball. We play hard and we play with emotion. Playing the competition we did down the stretch will help us in the post-season."

_ Staff writer Joanne Korth and correspondent Adrian Sainz contributed to this report.

Sunshine field

The eight teams from Florida that earned berths in the 64-team NCAA Tournament regional field:

+ Bethune-Cookman

+ Central Florida

+ Florida

+ Florida Atlantic

+ Florida International

+ Florida State

+ Miami

+ Stetson

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