By: Nick De La Torre
The reeling Florida Gators (3-6) play host to the red-hot Miami Hurricanes (9-0) this weekend at McKethan Stadium. The Gators currently hold an 11-game winning streak over the Hurricanes, and will look to defend that streak tonight at 7 p.m.
While their records would suggest this to be a gigantic mismatch, there is really only one thing that separates these two teams. Experience. Miami has a veteran roster while the Gators are as green as the grass they play on.
No stat shows this better than how both teams have fared in close games. Miami is winning close games; four of their nine wins have been by one run, while Florida hasn’t done the little things well enough to win those close games. Three of Florida’s six losses have come by one run, and in all of those games you can point to an error, a hit batter, a balk or a botched rundown as a key reason the Gators came up short.
After being swept at home for the first time since 2009, head coach Kevin O’Sullivan insisted that his team remain positive. Despite falling to UNF on Tuesday, the Gators finished the game with a season high 13 hits, something that O’Sullivan has not overlooked.
“There’s nothing we can do about what happened. We’re close.” O’Sullivan said,
“We’re going to try to focus on the positives just like Tuesday night. I was really pleased with how we swung the bat.
The first positive will be Friday starter Jonathan Crawford taking the mound. Crawford (0-1 4.00 ERA) has had two lackluster performances to start the season and the Gators really need him to produce a quality start.
The Florida bullpen has thrown 55.1 innings this season, and the heavy use has led to some poor performances. A seven or eight inning outing from Crawford would go a long way towards getting the bullpen the rest they need.
“Just focus on attacking hitters and let themselves get out” Crawford said, “That in turn will help me get deeper into games.
Baseball is a game of streaks, and this weekend series against Miami will provide the Gators with a chance to jumpstart their season and get it headed in the right direction.