Sunday April 29, 2012Gators know talking won't snap them out of their funk -- only good hitting, pitching and defense
Updated: 8:30pm, April 29
Updated: 8:30pm, April 29
Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan talks to his team in the dugout following Sunday's loss to Arkansas.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The postgame dugout meeting has become a much-too-familiar routine for the Gators baseball team of late.
They were once again huddled around Coach Kevin O'Sullivan following Sunday's 3-1 loss to Arkansas, clinching a series win for the Razorbacks.
It's been this way for the last month.
The Gators win one, they lose one. They win two, and then they lose two. Back and forth like a camper trying to find his way out of the forest only to return to the same spot over and over and over.
Since a win over Florida State on March 27 gave the Gators 23 wins in their first 25 games, the Gators are 10-10.
"We've been in a funk for a while,'' O'Sullivan said Sunday. "It's just very hard right now. It's our job to get these guys back going the way they're capable."
The Gators appeared on the way to making the 2012 season nothing but a warm-up for Omaha early on, winning a school-record 18 consecutive games during one stretch.
Since then, there have been injuries and an unsettled rotation and a bad break here and there.
In the three-game series against Arkansas missing bats played the role of culprit.
Florida barely managed to reach the Mendoza Line in the series, going 19-for-95 (.200) with only three extra-base hits – a double from Casey Turgeon on Friday and a pair of doubles from All-American catcher Mike Zunino on Saturday.
In Sunday's loss, Zunino had another pair of hits to show signs he is coming out of his slump against SEC pitching. However, in his biggest at-bat in the bottom of the eighth Zunino grounded out to second with the go-ahead run at third, ending the inning and the Gators' best chance at a win.
The game eventually went to extra innings and the Razorbacks scored a pair of runs in the top of the 10th to leave town with two out of three over the Gators.
Afterward, there wasn't any screaming or bats being thrown in the dugout. Just a reminder that the Gators must continue to grind and find a way out of their funk as they head to Kentucky for a key SEC series next weekend.
The Gators (12-9 in SEC play) could have closed to within a game of SEC East co-leaders Kentucky and South Carolina on Sunday, but instead sit two games back.
With only 11 regular-season games remaining, the Gators know it's time to recapture some of that early-season magic to avoid more of those postgame dugout meetings.
"We'll get there,'' outfielder Daniel Pigott said. "We've got time left. The positive thing about tough times is that eventually you come out of it.
"That's what we're working toward."
O'Sullivan tried to light a spark on Sunday. He called for a hit-and-run, a steal, tweaked the lineup again.
Nothing worked as Florida managed only five hits and were "late on the fastball and early on the curveball all day" according to O'Sullivan.
"It's just been very hard for us to score runs,'' he said. "We're trying to push the offense. Teams go though this. We're not immune to it. We'll get through it and hopefully be better because of it."
The Gators have final exams scheduled the next couple of days before heading to Lexington for a Thursday-Saturday series against the Wildcats.
There's not a lot to say until then.
"It's just to the point now where they need to get themselves going,'' O'Sullivan said. "I think they know what they need to do."
Score a couple of runs would be a good start.