Gators vs. Noles: bang for the buck

A first year head baseball coach and staff that are working their collective tails off with a team fresh off a sweep of Auburn in their Southeastern Conference opener. They will go against a bitter arch-rival with a top ten squad and a head coach who just won his 1,500th game in his 29th year at his alma mater. Beautiful weather, a Tuesday night with nothing else going on in sports world and a general admission price of one dollar. It all adds up to Florida playing host to Florida State at McKethan Stadium for a 6:30 p.m. encounter that promises to deliver a lot of bang for your buck.

How beautiful would it be for a record number of Gators fans to show up in force for this mid-week encounter with the mighty Seminoles? It could happen simply because it’s a good ball game, but what an opportunity it presents. This is a game tailor-made for the old school baseball fan — take your family to a ball game without breaking the budget.

Sodas, hot dogs and popcorn will all cost $1 so this budget friendly game has everything it takes to lure a huge crowd. If just 2,900 Gators fans bring a friend, a new McKethan Stadium attendance record could be set. The Seminoles will do their part to help. They are talking “best team in years” in Tallahassee, so FSU is certain to bring a few hundred Garnet and Gold clad fans for this one.

The expansion of McKethan Stadium makes it possible to easily break the old record of 5,698, set in 2005 when the Gators beat Florida State in the NCAA Super Regional for a berth in the College World Series.

That was really fun wasn’t it?

Yes, that environment was pure electric. I can remember the comments of Matt LaPorta, Alan Horne, Brian Jeroloman, Darren O’Day and Tommy Boss. They were humbled and appreciative for the vast number of Florida fans who were on hand to lend their voices and Gator Chomps with each and every positive that occurred as the Gators defeated the Seminoles 8-5 and punched their ticket to Omaha. 

This us third-ranked Florida State (16-1), coached by Mike Martin, versus upstart Florida (13-3), coached by Kevin O’Sullivan.  This is “The Unconquered” versus “Gators Pride.”

This is a chance to give O’Sullivan and the new-look Gators a rowdy crowd that can make it loud and exciting at The Mc. If everybody brings a friend or two, this could happen. 

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The Gators will start junior southpaw Stephen Locke (1-1, 4.22) who pitched very well his last time out. Opponents are hitting just .211 against him. The Seminoles will counter with righthander Bo O’Dell, who will be making his third start of the season. O’Dell (1-0, 3.60) has fanned 13 batters in 15 innings pitched. However, opponents are batting .306 against him.

A few key stats …The Seminoles have eight starters who are hitting .351 or better and sport an on base percentage of .473 … The two and three hole hitters, Jason Stidham and Buster Posey combined are averaging .394 with 84 total bases …They also ranked in the top three in the Seminoles power numbers … Third baseman Stuart Tapley leads Florida State with eight errors.

Florida has stolen 39 bases, while the Seminoles have allowed 19 stolen bases in 30 attempts … The Gators hit .327 in the Auburn series … The Florida starters have allowed just three earned runs in their last 23.1 innings in four games.