Florida taking on Florida State has become something of a postseason tradition of late. And while it's not fair to either team, really, to make a road to Omaha one taken through its rival's hometown or to reward a top seed with a rematch against a familiar foe, it's also worked out pretty well for the Gators of late.
Florida is 4-0 against Florida State in NCAA Super Regional play, sweeping the Seminoles out of the NCAA Tournament in 2005 and 2015 and winning those games by at least three runs each. The composite tally after two games with double-digit runs last year stands at Florida 40, FSU 15.
And after a three-game sweep of the 'Noles in their home-away-Jacksonville series of midweek games in 2016, Florida has to be approaching this weekend with confidence.
Having a ton of talent will help, as ever. The Gators had eight players taken in the first 108 picks of this week's MLB Draft, including first-rounders A.J. Puk and Dane Dunning ... who might not even see the field this weekend, should the Gainesville Super Regional end in two games. Puk isn't slated to pitch until a decisive Game 3 on Monday, with Florida's reportedly retained Kevin O'Sullivan hanging his team's Omaha hopes on sophomore Alex Faedo in Saturday's Game 1 and SEC Pitcher of the Year Logan Shore in Sunday's Game 2.
Faedo (13-1, 3.19 ERA) didn't pitch in any of Florida's wins over FSU in 2016, but he did get a chance to see the Seminoles in 2015, having shifted from occasional midweek starter to regular Sunday starter late in his freshman season. That game produced the first loss of his Florida career, as he gave up six hits, two walks, three runs, and a hit batter in four innings of work in what was an 8-3 FSU win in Jacksonville.
Whether that's enough success against a significantly inferior version of Faedo to give the Seminoles hope and confidence remains to be seen, just like whether FSU can keep Florida's potent bats in check. Since FSU took two of three from the Gators in 2015's regular season, holding Florida to three runs in both losses, the Gators have destroyed Seminoles pitching, rolling up 24 runs in that 2015 Super Regional and another 17 in three games in 2016. Florida's bats are hot, too, with the return and re-emergence of Peter Alonso, who hit three home runs in last weekend's Gainesville Regional, keying what now seems like a lineup with no holes.
Florida comes into this weekend as the favorite, in other words, and maybe so much so that the Seminoles' funereal reaction to being paired with the NCAA Tournament's No. 1 overall seed makes sense.
Here's the Gainesville Regional schedule, including TV times. All games will be available for online streaming via WatchESPN.
Saturday, June 11
Game 1: No. 1 Florida vs. Florida State, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sunday, June 12
Game 2: Florida State vs. No. 1 Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPN2 or ESPNU)
Monday, June 13 (if necessary)
Game 3: No. 1 Florida vs. Florida State, TBD (TBD)