2010 College World Series: Florida Gators Challenge Rivals Florida State, Miami
Call it the changing of the guard if you will.
For years Florida State and Miami were the state's premier baseball programs.
Reaching the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. wasn't a goal.
It was a requisite.
But after the Hurricanes' 4-3 loss in 10 innings to the Florida Gators in the Gainesville Super Regional last night, a school record 5,783 fans witnessed the possible end of an era.
Miami baseball has made the postseason an NCAA record 38 seasons.
With four national championships and 23 appearances in Omaha, it's one of the most storied programs.
Over the past two years, however, the Gators have blossomed from a second-class citizen to top dog in the state.
Heading into this postseason, Florida earned the third overall national seed, which neither the Seminoles or Canes achieved.
Although this Saturday will mark just their sixth trip to the College World Series and first since 2005, the Gators are on the rise.
In 2005 they were the NCAA runner-ups and eliminated the Seminoles in Super Regional play.
Head coach Kevin O'Sullivan continues to slowly steer top recruits away from the 'Noles and Canes.
Legendary head coaches Jim Morris and Mike Martin must be wary.
O'Sullivan improved to 4-0 against the rival Hurricanes in NCAA play, and his team has won six of the last seven meetings.
Florida has eliminated Miami from the postseason in consecutive seasons.
And youth cannot be an excuse for the Hurricanes, who started four freshmen in last night's horrendous seven-error game.
Four Gator freshmen, two sophomores, one junior and two seniors saw starts over the two-game Super Regional.
Saturday night's starting pitcher, Hudson Randall, kept up with junior All-American Chris Hernandez.
He's just a freshman.
Alex Panteliodis, who pitched a complete game on Friday night in a 7-2 victory, is a sophomore.
In last week's MLB Draft Florida matched Florida State with six players selected.
Just five Miami players were taken, but Golden Spikes Finalist Yasmani Grandal was drafted 12th overall by the Cincinnati Reds.
While the future is bright for Florida's baseball program, Morris and the Hurricanes must get back on track.
Miami is the only "Big Three" program in Florida not traveling to Omaha this year.
When asked by a reporter whether the Gators had finally arrived as a state powerhouse, Morris held back and said "Only time will tell."
It might be time for Morris to take off his trademark Nike sunglasses and see what is in front of him.
Florida athletics no longer begins and ends with football and basketball.
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