Florida may be the No. 1 team in the nation, but if the Southeastern Conference tournament began today, the Gators would enter as the No. 3 seed.
With six of 10 SEC series in the books, it’s time to begin watching the standings. With no rainouts to complicate the standings, all 12 SEC teams haved played 18 of their 30-game slate.
Thanks to Sunday’s 6-3 win against Georgia, Florida (31-9 overall, 11-7 in SEC play) stays within striking distance of league-leading Kentucky (35-6, 13-5), which won 8-7 vs. LSU (32-9, 12-6) on Sunday.
“I think just to get the series win is important, I don’t care how you do it,” said UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan. “To get the Sunday win today was big for us — It keeps us within two games of the SEC lead.”
Florida has an identical league record as South Carolina (30-11, 11-7), but because the Gators won two of three games against South Carolina, they own the tiebreaker against the Gamecocks, which would be the fourth seed if the eight-team SEC tourney began today in Hoover, Ala.
After sweeping three games from Vanderbilt (18-22, 7-11) and taking two of three vs. South Carolina at home to open conference play, the Gators lost two of three games at Ole Miss and against LSU at home. They bounced back by winning two of three games against Tennessee and now Georgia.
The road doesn’t get any easier with Arkansas (28-12, 9-9) coming to town next weekend. The Gators then head to Kentucky before returning to Gainesville to host Mississippi State (24-16, 8-10) and wrapping up SEC play at Auburn (7-11, 21-9).
As far as the two teams ahead of Florida in the standings, it stacks up most favorable for Kentucky — other than its series against Florida. The Wildcats have series remaining against Vanderbilt, Alabama and Mississippi State — teams with sub .500 league records. LSU still has to play Georgia, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and South Carolina.
Florida starter Hudson Randall had a pair of bases stolen against him his three innings pitched.
Both Peter Verdin and Kevin Ruiz got excellent jumps off of the right-handed Randall.
Ideally, a right-handed pitcher needs to get the ball to the catcher in 1.3 seconds. That’s from the moment he lifts his left foot to begin his delivery to the moment the ball hits the catcher’s glove. Randall was between 1.3-1.4, so obviously Georgia had picked up something in Randall’s delivery that was tipping off when he was throwing home.
By comparison, UGA starter Luke Crumley also was between 1.3-1.4 out of the stretch.
It was Military Appreciation Day at McKethan Stadium on Sunday. Players sported solid white uniforms, but their hats were special for the occasion as the ‘F’ was red, white and blue.
After the National Anthem, UF players kept their hands over their hearts as the color guard walked off the field behind home plate.
On a side note, Sunday’s also are Family Fun Days, which means a hundred or so children get to stand next to their favorite player on the field during the anthem. One extra young youngster stayed on the mound for several seconds after the others had left until Randall leaned down and pointed the boy toward the exit along the right-field wall.
• On the first pitch he saw as a batter, Florida slugger Mike Zunino jumped all over a belt-high fastball on the inside half of the plate for solo homerun over the left field bleachers. It was his team-best 11th blast of the season. “I was just trying to get a pitch up that I could drive and, hopefully, get some momentum for the team and I was able to get that.” he said.
• Georgia reserve catcher Brandon Stephens went down for several minutes after a foul ball off the bat of Nolan Fontana hit him in the inner thigh or groin area during the fifth inning. Once he regained his composure, he stayed in the game.
• Daniel Pigott, who sliced a three-run homer over the right field wall to snap a 3-all tie and power a four-run sixth inning, was 7-for-12 during the series with three extra base hits.
• Florida’s Brian Johnson extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single past Georgia second baseman Levi Hyams.
Team SEC Overall
Kentucky 13-5 35-6
Florida 11-7 31-9
South Carolina 11-7 30-11
Georgia 8-10 24-17
Tennessee 7-11 22-18
Vanderbilt 7-11 18-22
LSU 12-6 32-9
Ole Miss 9-9 27-13
Arkansas 9-9 28-12
Mississippi State 8-10 24-16
Auburn 7-11 21-19
Alabama 6-12 16-25
*SEC TOURNAMENT SEEDS
4) South Carolina
5) Ole Miss
8) Mississippi State
*If the postseason began today.