The No. 10 Florida Gators (36-13, 15-9 SEC) travel to Nashville on Thursday to take on the No. 9 Vanderbilt Commodores (35-14, 17-7 SEC) in a series that will go a long way in deciding the SEC East and potentially a National Seed for the NCAA Tournament. Vanderbilt owns a half game lead over LSU in the overall SEC standings and LSU will host Missouri at Alex Box Stadium this weekend.
“Going into Vanderbilt, we’re just going to stick with our game plan,” sophomore Buddy Reed said. “We’re going to hopefully play our best and see what the outcome is.”
After a Friday night loss, the Gators bounced back in Athens, taking two in a row against Georgia and added a midweek win over USF to come into the weekend on a three-game winning streak. Vanderbilt is just 6-4 over their last 10 games, including two losses to South Carolina and losses to Kentucky and Belmont. The Dore’s are coming off of a 2-1 series win at Kentucky and had the week off to prepare for Florida.
“It’s important for sure, I’d lie to you if I told you it wasn’t,” Vanderbilt manager Tim Corbin said of the importance of winning the SEC East and setting that goal before the season.
Friday night will be a star-studded affair on the mound with Florida throwing Logan Shore (6-4, 3.01 ERA) against Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer (9-1, 1.74 ERA). Fulmer is a surefire first round pick in the upcoming MLB Draft and will likely be selected within the first 10 picks. Shore comes into the game having struggled his last time out and hasn’t been in the form he showed as a freshman for most of the season.
Coming off of the best start of his short career, A.J. Puk (6-3, 5.08 ERA) will take the bump on Saturday, facing junior Philip Pfeifer (3-3, 3.88) in a battle of lefties.
Sunday Florida will turn to freshman Alex Faedo (4-1, 3.27 ERA), who had strung together three great Sunday starts before faltering last week in Athens. He will square off against junior righty Walker Buehler (3-1, 2.86 ERA).
The Gators and Dores will meet at 7:30 on Thursday and Friday and finish off the three game stint on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Pete Alonso missed the Tuesday game against USF after breaking his nose during batting practice. Alonso line a ball off of a screen and it came back at him, hitting him in the face. Alonso wanted to play on Tuesday and he did travel with the team on Wednesday. He’s expected to participate this weekend.
Kevin O’Sullivan is 17-11 (.607) against Vanderbilt, 9-3 (.750) in Gainesville, 4-5 (.444) in Nashville, 2-3 (.400) at the SEC Tourney and 2-0 at the NCAA Tourney (both at the College World Series).