Tulane takes No. 3 seed at Tallahassee regional, set to face Florida

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 27, 2008

NEW ORLEANS, La.–The tension in the Milton J. “Mickey” Retif, Jr. Memorial Clubhouse was so thick on Monday that you could cut it with a knife.

 After going 36-18-1 during the regular season and going 1-2 in the 2008 Entergy Conference USA Baseball Championship at home at the new Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, the Tulane University baseball team’s postseason chances laid in the hands of the NCAA Selection Committee.

 But less than 15 minutes into the 11:30 a.m. selection show, the calm and subdued atmosphere was shifted to cheers and high fives as the Green Wave claimed the No. 3 seed at the NCAA Tallahassee (Fla.) Regional at Dick Howser Stadium on the campus of Florida State University.

 “It’s just really good to be back in the NCAA tournament,” Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. “Last year, missing out for the first time in 10 years, that’s a depressing thing. To get back in and have a chance to go to a real good seed – now we are going to a national seed in Florida State and playing a great Florida team – but just to be back in is where we need to be and where we are used to being. It’s good to be back.

 “They key is to get into the NCAA tournament. We play every year to get into the NCAA. Your goal then is to play your best baseball when you get in.”

Tulane will take on second-seeded Florida (34-22, 17-13 SEC) at noon (CDT) to open Regional play, and is joined in the Regional by host and No. 4 national seed Florida State (48-10, 24-6 ACC) and fourth-seeded Bucknell (29-22-2, 10-10 Patriot League).

 The Green Wave’s Regional bid is the 19th overall – all since 1979 – and the 12th in 15 seasons under Jones. Tulane saw its string of nine consecutive NCAA Regional appearances end in 2007, but the Wave look to start a new streak after earning a bid this year.

“You really don’t know how great that feeling is until you sit there and you see your name come up,’ junior right-hander Shooter Hunt, who was named 2008 C-USA Pitcher of the Year, said. “You watch all the basketball guys a lot who are the bubble teams, and we were a bubble team. It feels really good right now, but it’s time to get back to business. Florida has a great squad. They’re an SEC team. We’re going to go out there starting today practicing hard to get ready for Friday.”

Tulane’s postseason trip to Tallahassee, Fla., is a first for the program, but not the first to the state of Florida. In 1988, Tulane earned a spot in the NCAA East Regional in Gainesville, where the Green Wave defeated North Carolina State, 1-0, behind a solid pitching performance by Gerald Alexander before dropping 8-6 and 9-5 decisions to Florida State and host Florida, respectively.

The Green Wave have not played at Florida State since 1990, but do have a history in Tallahassee as Tulane and the Seminoles were both members of the now defunct Metro Conference from 1979-1990. Tulane remained a Metro member until 1996 when C-USA was formed, but Florida State left the league following the 1990 season to become a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Green Wave are 27-29 all-time in Regional play, including claiming Regional titles in 2001, 2004 and 2005. In the last three trips to the postseason, Tulane has advanced to the championship game each time. In head-to-head matchups, Tulane is 1-5 all-time against Florida and 18-35 against Florida State. Tulane and Bucknell have never squared off on the diamond.