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Gainesville Regional open thread: Florida hosts opening round of NCAA Tournament

The Gators’ potential path to Omaha starts this weekend.

The Florida Gators baseball team begins regional play in the 2017 NCAA Tournament this weekend, hosting the Gainesville Regional at McKethan Stadium.

Florida, the national No. 3 seed, is the top-seed in this four-team double-elimination regional event. The Gators open against Marist tonight at 7:00 p.m. That game will air on the SEC Network and can be streamed through WatchESPN.

Marist is making their first NCAA postseason appearance since 2009. Florida has never faced the Red Foxes, who have not won a regional game since 2002. Marist did split a pair of games against Mississippi State earlier this season, and made the tournament by virtue of winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

The two other teams rounding out the Gainesville Regional are South Florida and Bethune-Cookman. You may recall that the Gators dropped their midweek finale this season to the Bulls. The Wildcats have regularly appeared in the Gainesville Regional, and were pleased to learn that they were not a No. 4 seed in a regional for the first time in program history.

The early game today between South Florida and Bethune-Cookman saw the Bulls dominate the Wildcats, 9-0, to advance to face the winner of Florida’s contest with the Red Foxes.

The Gators will start sophomore right-hander Jackson Kowar on Friday night against Marist, postponing Faedo Friday to Saturday, when junior righty Alex Faedo will take the mound. Sophomore right-hander Brady Singer is set to throw Florida’s third game.

In injury news, the Gators should have starting shortstop Dalton Guthrie back for this weekend’s action. Centerfielder Ryan Larson, who ranks second on the team with a .318 batting average, is not expected to play. He was hit in the head by a pitch in last Friday’s SEC Tournament win over Mississippi State. Nick Horvath, who replaced Larson in that game, was also hit by a ball and needed stitches in his lip; but will be available for the Regional. Larson should be able to return for Super Regional play if Florida advances.

Florida is a top-eight national seed in the tournament for the eighth time in the last nine years. The Gators also have five College World Series appearances in the last seven years.

Full NCAA Baseball Tournament bracket and schedule information can be found here.