The No. 5 Florida Gators (13-5) hit the road to kick off Southeastern Conference play this weekend against the Auburn Tigers (14-5) at Plainsman Park.
Florida, picked to finish first in the SEC by the league’s coaches are coming off of a midweek win over instate rival Florida State. Auburn played two midweek games, blanking UAB 4-0 and blasting Jacksonville State 10-1 on Wednesday.
Weekend schedule/Pitching matchups
Friday: (SEC Network +) RHP Alex Faedo (3-0, 1.37 ERA) vs. RHP Keegan Thompson (3-0, 0.64 ERA)
Saturday: (SEC Network +) RHP Brady Singer (2-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. RHP Casey Mize (2-0, 0.40 ERA)
Sunday:(SEC Network +) RHP Jackson Kowar (3-0, 2.19 ERA) vs. RHP Davis Daniel (1-0, 4.50 ERA)
Auburn holds the series edge over Florida 126-114-2. Under Kevin O’Sullivan the Gators have a 12-5 record over the Tigers, including the last three meetings between the two teams.
The Tigers and Gators last played in 2015. Florida won the season series 2-1 and beat Auburn in the second round of the SEC Tournament. Only Dalton Guthrie, JJ Schwarz, Mike Rivera, Ryan Larson and Alex Faedo have faced Auburn. Faedo threw the Sunday rubber match against Auburn, lasting 4.1 innings and one run on five hits. Series record in Auburn — Auburn leads 75-45-1
Sully vs. the SEC
Since Kevin O’Sullivan took over at Florida in 2008 no other school has more SEC wins (171) than the Gators.
Defense, defense, defense
Kevin O’Sullivan prides his teams on their defensive ability. This season the Gators sport a .984 fielding percentage. That’s 12th best in the country and tops in the SEC.
The Tigers’ have been led by their Friday and Saturday starters, Keegan Thompson and Casey Mize. Thompson didn’t factor into the decision in his last start, the first time that has happened this season. He also had an impressive 25 scoreless innings streak snapped. Thompson has been light out in 2017. The junior has given up just 15 hits in 28.1 innings this season, walking five. Hitters are batting just .158 against him in 2017.
Mize, only a sophomore, has been even better. He struck out a career-high 10 batters in Auburn’s 7-5 win last Saturday, the second double-digit strikeout game of his career. Mize has also been a strikeout artist this season, posting 38 in just 22.2 innings pitched. Batters are hitting just .191 against him this season.
Batters to watch:
Daniel Robert -Robert leads the Tigers with 2 home runs, 19 RBI a .534 slugging percentage and 39 total bases. He’s started every game this season and has reached base in 32 consecutive games.
Blake Logan – The catcher was 6-16 (.375) last week in five games, including his first home run of the season.
Gators batting leaders over the last five games
Dalton Guthrie – .438
Jonathan India – .353
Christian Hicks – .300
JJ Schwarz – .238
Nelson Maldonado – .231
Around the SEC
Missouri at Alabama
Mississippi State at Arkansas
Georgia at No. 7 LSU
Kentucky at Texas A&M
No. 24 Vanderbilt at No. 16 Ole Miss
No. 8 South Carolina at Tennessee