2016 was a record-breaking season for the Florida Gators baseball team. Kevin O’Sullivan’s ball club won a regular season school record 44-games, including 23-of-24 to start the season. They finished a perfect 14-0 in midweek games and spent most of the season ranked as the unanimous No. 1 team in the country. Florida is also the defending SEC Tournament Champions, with sights on winning the crown in back-to-back years.
All of those accomplishments are in the rearview mirror now. Wednesday night the Gators will play LSU in the SEC Tournament to begin postseason play. Even before Logan Shore delivered the first pitch of the season against Florida Gulf Coast the Gators had their minds set on one thing — getting back to and winning the College World Series. The regular season was nice, but this team has had grander goals since the very first time they met in the fall.
“All the stats, all the things that we’ve accomplished this year about this team — the 44 wins and the personal accomplishments, all those things are great, but whether you’ve had a great year or a year you wish you had back it really doesn’t matter,” O’Sullivan said. “All the stats are out the window and it’s about team baseball moving forward.”
The Gators’ path begins with LSU — a team they just finished a three-game series with. Florida took two-of-three from the Vols in Knoxville the first weekend of May. Florida will send A.J. Puk to the mound after the left-hander left his last start in the third inning with a stomach illness. Puk struggled in Knoxville. He needed 91 pitches to make it just 3.1 innings, walking a season-high six batters. He also surrendered two runs, hit a batter and struck out six in a no decision.
LSU makes it to Wednesday night after coming back in the ninth against Tennessee. Trailing 4-0 in the seventh, the Tigers put up three runs before Greg Deishmann’s leadoff home run in the ninth inning tied the game. LSU loaded the bases and Kramer Robertson walked the Tigers’ off with a single down the left field line.
Florida and LSU will square off at 8 p.m. est with the game broadcast on SEC Network.
Kevin O’Sullivan also announced that Pete Alonso (broken hand) and Jackson Kowar (collapsed lung) will travel with the team to Hoover. Alonso is expected to be able to return to the team for Regionals and Kowar is working towards coming back this season as well.