Seminoles scrambling to make NCAAs in Martin's final season
The Florida State baseball team has never missed the NCAA Tournament under Mike Martin, and the perfect script for his 40th and final season would have him reaching the College World Series for the 17th time and winning his first national championship.
First things first, however. Entering their final week of the regular season, the Seminoles are far from a lock to even make the 64-team national tournament.
"There's not a little bit of work. There's an awful lot of work left for us to get in," Martin said Monday.
FSU faces its toughest Atlantic Coast Conference series starting Thursday when it visits league-leading Louisville. The Seminoles (34-18, 16-11) are No. 66 in the RPI and probably need to win the series against the Cardinals and make a push in the conference tournament to be in position for an NCAA at-large bid.
Asked about the possibility of missing the NCAAs in his final season, Martin said: "It wouldn't take anything away from me as much as it would these outstanding young men I have on the team. I would feel bad for them, but I wouldn't feel nearly as bad for me because our program is about us. If we don't get to the postseason, we obviously know there is no chance to get to Omaha. We want the chance to get back to the heartland of America. And we know we have our backs to the wall, and we're looking forward to the challenge."
This past weekend was a celebration of the 75-year-old Martin and his long list of accomplishments, most notably his 2,021 career wins, most of any NCAA coach in any sport. A roast of Martin by friends and former players drew 600 people Saturday night, a ceremony was held at home plate before his final regular-season home game Sunday, and a touching video of his wife of 54 years, Carol, reading a letter to him about their lives as the first couple of Seminole baseball was played.
After FSU finished a three-game sweep of Richmond, the Martins walked hand in hand around the stadium thanking the fans.
Martin said his successor will be announced when the Seminoles' season ends and he is playing no role in the search. He publicly backs his son, Mike Jr., who played catcher for FSU from 1993-95 and has been the team's hitting coach and recruiting coordinator for 22 years.
Mike Sr. said he hasn't allowed himself to dwell on his looming retirement.
"Sometimes I wish I wasn't as competitive as I am and I could sit back and reminisce," he said, "but I have a job to do."
IN THE POLLS
UCLA (41-8), Vanderbilt (41-10) and Stanford (37-9) are the consensus top three teams by DIBaseball.com, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball newspaper.
The Bruins went 4-0 last week, including a three-game sweep at Washington State, and are over 40 wins for the first time since 2015. The Commodores have won 14 of 15 and own a one-game lead in the SEC standings. Stanford won two of three at California and is in a tie with UCLA and Oregon State for first in the Pac-12.
West Virginia (31-18) might come up short in its bid to host a regional for the first time, but it appears to have locked up a second NCAA Tournament appearance in three years. The Mountaineers came from behind to beat Kansas State 7-4 Sunday and win their sixth Big 12 series, their most since they won six Big East series in 2003.
Notre Dame's first series sweep since April 2017 had a surprise ending when Daniel Jung scored from third base after a balk was called on Canisius' Jarod Burmaster. Jung had taken third on a wild pitch before Burmaster's first balk of the season gave the Irish a 3-2 win in 11 innings.
Nicholls State's Jacob Bedevian threw his second complete game of the season in a win over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday, exactly one week after he pitched the first 12 innings in a 15-inning win over Houston Baptist. The 12 innings marked the longest outing by a Division I pitcher in three years. Bedevian's 93 1-3 innings in 14 appearances rank third nationally.
SEE YA LATER, GATORS?
Florida's streak of reaching every NCAA Tournament since Kevin O'Sullivan took over in 2008 is in jeopardy after a home series loss to Tennessee. The Gators (30-23, 10-17 SEC), who finish the regular season at Missouri, figure to be a double-digit seed in the conference tournament. Florida has reached the College World Series seven times since 2010, winning the 2017 title. The big issue? The team ERA of 5.40 is the highest since 2001.