- Bob Ferrante Special to The Palm Beach Post
Florida State's streak of regional appearances is now the nation's longest, coming at the expense of the University of Miami.
The Hurricanes (31-27) are staying home after 44 straight trips to the NCAA postseason. Miami won its pool at the ACC tournament, but the late push was not enough, and the NCAA Selection Committee said the Hurricanes were the first team out as resumes were debated.
"It’s an honor and a privilege to be part of the 44," Miami coach Jim Morris said. "It’s a streak that’s unmatched in any sport in NCAA history. To be a part of that and be a part of that with coach (Ron) Fraser is an honor. Very disappointed that we didn’t get in.”
Morris said he felt like Miami made a good argument late in the year, winning six straight games. That included a pair of wins in pool play, over Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, in the ACC Tournament before losing to North Carolina in the semifinals.
"But (Sunday), watching the games being played out and seeing all of the upsets, you know it starts shrinking down the number of at-large bids," Morris said. "And I guess we were the last team not to get in."
FSU (39-20) now has the nation's longest streak at 40 straight seasons, with 38 coming under coach Mike Martin. The Seminoles were considered a bubble team going into May but went 12-2 in the month to extend the streak and secure one of 16 regional host bids.
"That speaks to Mike Martin and what he's done here," FSU left-hander Tyler Holton said. "You know it's a great program. They've proved it for decades. It's crazy to think about."
The Seminoles had to overcome a variety of injuries in the first few months of the season as left fielder Jackson Lueck (shin splints and shingles), first baseman Drew Mendoza (thumb), third baseman Dylan Busby (shoulder and back) and right fielder Rhett Aplin (foot) missed significant playing time. Aplin, the team's leading hitter at .322, had surgery in early May and is out for the rest of the year.
"It is definitely the strangest season that I've ever had in my 38 years," Martin said. "I just think it says a lot about our ball club, the way we kept scrapping and battling and clawing and grinding."
The Seminoles will play No. 4 seed Tennessee Tech (40-19) on Friday at 6 p.m. (Watch ESPN). No. 2 seed UCF (40-20) will play Auburn (35-24) on Friday at noon (ESPN2) in the first game of the regional at Dick Howser Stadium.
FSU is paired up with the winner of the Lubbock Regional, which is hosted by Texas Tech. The Seminoles had been matched up with Florida the past two years, losing in 2015 and '16 in the Super Regionals at Gainesville.
Now, the Seminoles begin a new run as they look to reach the College World Series for the first time since 2012. FSU has had its struggles, but the pieces have come together over the last month.
"All year we were one pitch away or we were one bad hop away," FSU senior designated hitter Quincy Nieporte said. "We’re a good team. We just really haven’t had the breaks. We haven’t created the breaks for ourselves. We stuck with it. … It’s finally paying off."