TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — With the NCAA baseball tournament about to start a veteran group of managers with a combined 109 tournament trips will once again begin their annual quest for that seemingly ever elusive College World Series title.
Five managers in this year’s field have made 15 or more appearances in the tournament but have yet to win the championship. They are: Florida State’s Mike Martin, Georgia Tech’s Danny Hall, North Carolina State’s Elliott Avent, Minnesota’s John Anderson and Stetson’s Pete Dunn.
The dean of frustration is Martin, who has guided the Seminoles to the postseason all 37 years he has been in charge. Florida State has been to the College World Series 15 times under Martin with two losses in the championship.
“You don’t reinvent the wheel,” Martin said. “You have to be the same person, have the same personality and do the things you have done all year long.”
Martin did add that early in his tenure he did deviate slightly from his regular season approach when the postseason arrived. But after the Seminoles lost to Arizona in the 1986 title game, he made his mind up that he wasn’t going to do that again.
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, who is one of many players Martin has sent to the majors, is hoping his former coach can make a title run this season. The Seminoles are hosting a regional and open with Alabama State.
“He’s just a true baseball man,” Posey said. “The reason he’s been there as long as he has is he’s a great leader, he’s a great person. It sure would be nice to see him get it.”
Georgia Tech’s Hall has had 22 appearances with the first two at Kent State. Hall, who has been coaching for 29 years, has led the Yellow Jackets to the College World Series three times and nearly won it in his first season at the school in 1994.
“I think the only difference in the regular season versus the post season is that everyone starts fresh again,” said Hall, whose Yellow Jackets face Connecticut in the Gainesville Regional. “Teams do, players do so even though the regular season is a marathon now the postseason is more of a sprint.”
Avent, who has managed for 28 seasons, has led the Wolfpack to the tournament 15 times in 20 seasons, including a College World Series appearance in 2013. Before arriving at N.C. State, Avent was the coach at New Mexico State.
Dunn and Anderson would just love to make it to the CWS in Omaha, Nebraska, once. Anderson, who is in his 35th season at Minnesota, has 18 regional appearances and Stetson’s Dunn has 17 in 37 years.
Thirteen of the top 25 active winningest coaches in Division I college baseball have guided their teams to spots in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Of that group though, only three — Miami’s Jim Morris, LSU’s Paul Manieri and Rice’s Wayne Graham — have won the College World Series.
With Texas’ Augie Garido stepping down earlier this week, Martin is the active wins leader at 1,894 and is six shy of becoming the second Division I baseball coach to reach 1,900. There is a chance Martin could reach that milestone during the tournament, but that is the last thing he is thinking about.
“It’s a number. It’s something that someone else will get a hold of in the next 10 years,” Martin said. “I’m not saying I’m not interested. For heaven’s sake I would be lying but the focus now is on getting better as we get into this thing.”
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