It will be a raucous setting Friday night when
takes the field in Gainesville to face the No. 1-ranked
baseball regional game at UF's McKethan Stadium.
Frankly, that's how Jordan Dailey wants it to be. Sure, McKethan will be filled with thousands of screaming Gators' fans, but if the BCU closer gets the ball and a chance to put away the homestanders, that crowd will be just enough to get him going.
That's just how closers are.
Crowds try to get into their heads and under their skin. But good closers thrive on the obnoxious. He won't be hearing his trademark
intro music, but that's OK. He'll be pumped just the same.
"I like being able to have control over the game coming in as a closer. It's a lot better than watching from the sidelines," said Dailey, a product of Orlando Timber Creek and one of seven Central Florida players on the BCU roster, which also includes four players from Broward County. "The biggest thing is slowing the game down ... that's one of the things that I've probably improved most on this year from the past, is learning how to be able to control your emotions on the mound and being able to control the crowd and the situation at hand."
The seven-time defending
(34-25) face top-seeded Florida (42-18) at 7 p.m., Friday, while Georgia Tech (36-24) and College of Charleston (37-20) will face off in the other region battle at 1. All games from Gainesville will be televised live on ESPN3 . This is the 15th NCAA Tournament appearance overall for Bethune-Cookman.
BCU and Florida already have met twice this season in Gainesville, with the Gators sweeping those games 8-6 and 10-1. Don't think, however, those losses weigh heavily on the minds of the Wildcats.
"I think our guys are real excited about the opportunity to play the number one team in the country," said first-year coach Jason Beverlin, who was the Tennessee pitching coach before taking over at BCU this season. He also had a cup of coffee in the majors with the
and Indians in 2002 and played in Japan for three seasons, as well.
"One thing we talked about is just going out and having some fun … just going out and play good baseball and if we do that we have a chance to win," Beverlin said. "No matter who we play we have to be consistent with our approach and expect to win the game going in … whether they're No. 1 or the 300th-ranked team, we need to concentrate more on us rather than who's in the opponent's jersey."
Taking the mound for BCU on Friday will be staff ace Rayan Gonzalez, a 6-foot-4 Puerto Rican product who is one of four players representing the island on this BCU team. Gonzalez is 9-1 with a 1.96 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 87.1 innings pitched. He has three complete games in 14 starts.
Winners in the double-elimination format will play each other at 7 p.m. on Saturday, with the elimination game at 1 p.m. The title game is Sunday at 7 p.m., and a second contest will be Monday at 7 p.m., if necessary.