Thursday April 17, 2014No. 18 Florida Baseball Finally Returns To McKethan Stadium Against Georgia
Riding a three-game winning streak after downing Florida Gulf Coast , 7-1, on Tuesday night in Fort Myers, the No. 18 Gators (24-13/9-6 SEC) return to the friendly confines of McKethan Stadium for the first time since April 1 to host Georgia (21-15-1/7-7-1 SEC) for an Easter Weekend series. Game times this weekend are 7:30 p.m. on Friday, 7 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. on Sunday.
The entire series can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Mick Hubert. Friday’s game will be carried on CSS/Cox Sports (Cox Communications Channel 1259 HD and 259 in Gainesville) with Rusty Ensor and Bernie Guenther and streamed on ESPN3, while Saturday’s game will be on CSS/Cox Sports (Cox Communications Channel 199 in Gainesville) with Ensor and Guenther. Sunday’s finale will be on ESPNU and the WatchESPN app with the trio of Gabe Gross, Tom Hart and Mike Rooney. Live stats for each game will be available on GatorZone.com and fans can also follow updates of each game on @GatorZoneBB, the official Twitter account of the Gator baseball team.
Georgia (21-15-1/7-7-1 SEC) No. 18 Florida (24-13/9-6 SEC)
Friday: Ryan Lawlor, So., LHP (3-2, 3.44) Logan Shore, Fr., RHP (3-2, 1.67)
Saturday: Robert Tyler, Fr., RHP (4-2, 1.56) Aaron Rhodes, So., RHP (3-2, 2.63)
Sunday: TBA TBA
QUICK HITS ABOUT THE GATORS
· The Gators are in first place in the SEC’s Eastern Division and one game up on No. 6 South Carolina (28-8/8-7 SEC). Through five SEC series, UF is tied for second overall in the league, one game behind No. 19 Alabama (25-11/10-5 SEC).
· Florida returns home after a successful road trip in which it went 5-3 (.625) and had seven games against ranked teams, highlighted by an 8-0 shutout of No. 1 Florida State in Tallahassee and a series victory at No. 4 South Carolina (1-4, 4-3 (13), 6-5).
· UF is rated No. 1 in both the official RPI from the NCAA and Strength of Schedule compiled by Warren Nolan.
· The Gators are 8-1 (.889) against top-five teams this season and have collected a nation’s best 14 victories against teams in the top 50 of the RPI (14-6 record).
· After not playing at home since April 1, the Orange and Blue will have an eight-game homestand against Georgia (3), Jacksonville, Florida A&M and Missouri (3).
· Florida is 10-5 (.667) in one-run games and is 5-2 (.714) in extra innings this year after going 7-10 (.412) and 2-4 (.333), respectively, in ‘13.
· Junior catcher Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) (.338, 32 RBI) led the squad with a .357 (5-for-14) clip at USC and enters the weekend on a career-best hitting streak of 11 games, a stretch in which he is 17-for-46 (.370) with 14 RBI and nine runs. He went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs at FGCU.
· Gushue leads Florida's offense in the "Triple Crown" categories, batting average (.338), RBI (32) and homers (4), and has a team-high seven multiple-RBI games.
· Florida left-hander/first baseman A.J. Puk (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) was chosen as the SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday after his heroics in Columbia. In 11 appearances this season, with three starts, Puk is 3-2 with a 3.74 ERA in 21.2 innings, with 27 strikeouts and seven walks.
· Friday night’s Gator starter, freshman Logan Shore (Coon Rapids, Minn.) (3-2, 1.67), has worked at least five innings in all eight of his starts and is 3-1 in SEC play.
· Freshman Buddy Reed (Finksburg, Md.) (.238, 4 RBI) is 5-for-7 (.714) over the past two games, going a career-best 3-for-3 in the finale at South Carolina and 2-for-4 versus FGCU on Tuesday.
· Freshman LHP Kirby Snead (Alachua, Fla.) (1-0, 3.50) tossed four shutout innings of one-hit ball at FGCU and has not allowed a run in 14 of his 18 appearances.
· Freshman Peter Alonso (Tampa, Fla.) (278, 14 RBI) batted a team-best .394 (13-for-33) on the eight-game road trip, followed by sophomore Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) (.305, 18 RBI) at .387 (12-for-31) and Gushue at .382 (13-for-34).
· Junior RHP Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) (2-0, 1.50, 4 saves) and sophomore LHP Danny Young (Boca Raton, Fla.) (4-0, 1.50, 1 save) share the team lead for lowest ERA.
· After 6 innings this year, Florida is 14-1 (.933) when leading, 2-12 (.143) when trailing and 8-0 (1.000) when tied.
· Twenty-one of the Gators’ 37 games this season have been decided by 2 runs or less: UF is 10-5 (.667) in 1-run and 4-2 (.667) in 2-run games.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is 14-6 (.700) against Georgia, 7-2 (.778) in Gainesville, 6-3 (.667) in Athens and 1-1 (.500) at the
SEC Tournament. The Gators had claimed their last six regular-season series with UGA - 2007 (3-0), 2008 (2-1), 2009 (3-0), 2010 (3-0), 2011 (2-1) and 2012 (2-1) - before dropping two of three to complete the 2013 regular season in Athens.
Florida has emerged victorious its last three home series against Georgia - 2008 (L, W, W), 2010 (W, W, W) and 2012 (W, L, W) - since suff ering a three-game sweep in 2006.
2013 SERIES RECAP
The Gators claimed the opener, 4-2, before the Bulldogs emerged victorious in the final two games at Foley Field last May, 3-1 and 9-2.
UGA scored multiple runs in three different innings en route to a 9-2 win to claim the series on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs used a 14-hit offensive surge and three home runs to subdue the Gators in the teams’ regular-season finale. The trio of Martin, Vickash Ramjit and Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) chipped in with two hits apiece. Ramjit was 5-for-11 (.455) over the three games with the Bulldogs.
A three-run sixth inning propelled the Bulldogs to a 3-1 victory on Friday night. UGA right-hander Sean McLaughlin yielded four hits and one run over seven innings before Mike Mancuso worked a scoreless eighth and Dylan Cole retired the Gators in order in the ninth to collect his fourth save. Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) had carried a shutout into the sixth but was on the hook for the defeat. Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) had provided UF with a 1-0 lead courtesy of an RBI double in the second inning.
Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) snapped a 2-2 tie with an RBI single in the ninth inning and Florida added an insurance run on a balk to take the series opener, 4-2, on Thursday night at Foley Field. Bader was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI, Harris worked out of a jam in the eighth inning to earn the win, while Johnny Magliozzi registered the final three outs to notch his 12th save. Magliozzi finished one save shy of the school’s single-season mark shared by Danny Wheeler (1994) and Josh Fogg (1998). Righty Jonathon Crawford turned in a quality start by scattering five hits and permitting two runs (one earned) over 6.2 innings.