Scott Carter’s Blog Carter’s Corner
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida baseball team has had a lot of success in seven seasons under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, highlight by three consecutive trips to the College World Series from 2010-12.
Still, the Gators’ current run through the SEC is unprecedented during O’Sullivan’s tenure. In fact, Florida’s 11-game SEC win streak is unmatched in program history over the past 46 years.
You have to go all the way back to 1968 for the only time the Gators reeled off 11 consecutive wins over SEC opponents. Led by head coach Dave Fuller, Florida finished 25-13 that season to win the SEC Eastern Division title.
The Gators won their final 10 regular-season conference games and then knocked off Alabama in the first game of the SEC Championship Series before losing the next two to the Crimson Tide.
Florida enters tonight’s home game against Vanderbilt unblemished in conference play since a 4-1 loss at South Carolina on April 11. The eighth-ranked Gators (33-16, 18-6 in SEC) came back to win the final two games of the series and have swept three-game series against Georgia, Missouri and Alabama since.
“We’re having a lot of timely hitting, going up to the plate and getting the job done,’’ Florida second baseman Casey Turgeon told reporters Wednesday. “We’re playing really well as a team, everyone is contributing. Due to that, we’re winning a lot.”
Turgeon did his part in the three-game sweep at Alabama by going 8-for-11 and earning SEC Player of the Week honors.
The Gators rarely win sexy. They usually do it the old-fashioned way: solid pitching, steady defense and timely hitting. The only categories they currently lead the SEC in are sacrifice bunts and sacrifice flies. They are second in fewest walks issued per nine innings.
Those little things have led to some big wins.
ESPNU is in town tonight for the showdown between top-10 teams (Vanderbilt is No. 10).
The Gators are 11-1 at home against SEC foes this season and under O’Sullivan, Florida is 8-1 against Vanderbilt and his good friend, Commodores head coach Tim Corbin.
If those trends stay true, the Gators will be owners of a new school record and another win closer to a potential SEC title late Thursday night.
“I think they are excited about playing on national TV,’’ O’Sullivan said. “It should be a fun weekend. They know what’s in front of them. We talk about it. There’s no sense in not talking about it. It’s an exciting time of year. We want to keep getting better.”