Gainesville awaits: CMU baseball to face Florida Gators in NCAA Tournament opener

CMU baseball players celebrate after their teammate gets on base with a bunt on Friday, May 6, in Theunissen Stadium.

Central Michigan baseball is heading to Gainesville, Florida. 

The Chippewas (42-17, 30-7 Mid-American Conference) will take on the host Florida Gators (39-22, 15-15 Southeastern Conference) in the opener Friday. The game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN+. CMU is 0-7 all-time against the Gators.

It's the third straight NCAA Tournament appearance for CMU and head coach Jordan Bischel, who has guided the program there every season he's been at the helm save for the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign. 

The Chippewas earned the tournament berth by winning the MAC tournament, knocking off regular season champion Ball State twice in consecutive days to claim the crown. 

Florida finished with a .500 record in SEC play but won its final four conference series and ran through the loser's bracket all the way to the conference tournament championship game. In the final, the Gators lost 8-5 to Tennessee, who is the NCAA Tournament's top overall seed. The Gators are the tourney's No. 13 overall seed. 

Liberty and Oklahoma are the other two teams in the Gainesville Regional and will square off Friday. The respective winners will play each other Saturday for a spot in the regional championship, while the losers will meet the same day in an elimination game. 

Last season, CMU used wins in a pair of elimination games to reach the championship of the Notre Dame Regional before losing to the host Fighting Irish. 

The winner of the Gainesville Regional will take on the champion of the Blacksburg Regional, which is hosted by No. 4 overall seed Virginia Tech and features the Hokies along with Gonzaga, Columbia and Wright State.