It’s not exactly news that there will be a heavy influence of Florida natives involved this weekend when LSU and Florida tangle in a key Southeastern Conference weekend series at Alex Box Stadium.
Especially considering 23 Gators on the 33-player roster hail from Florida.
What is a unique twist is that a handful of Tigers are Sunshine State products — two of LSU’s top hitters and two relief pitchers.
Those four are junior designated hitter Blake Dean, junior first baseman/catcher Sean Ochinko, senior pitcher Nolan Cain and freshman left-hander Chris Matulis.
Dean is from Crestview in the Panhandle, Ochinko is from Parkland in the Miami area, Cain’s hometown of Cantonment is near Pensacola and Matulis is from Boynton Beach near Boca Raton.
“It’s not a surprise that they have so many Florida guys because there are so many great players in the state,” said Dean, who considered Florida State in the recruitment process but never really looked at the Gators. “Florida and Florida State and Miami don’t have to go outside the state to find players because they have so many all around them to choose from.”
Florida is the last of the state’s big three to play for a national championship in baseball. The Gators collided with Texas in the 2005 College World Series championship, losing 6-2 and 4-2. Miami won the 2001 national championship and also won in 1999, toppling Florida State 6-5.