Florida/FSU baseball looks to break record

The #22 Florida baseball team will face top ranked Florida State tomorrow night at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville at 7pm. Some 8,000 tickets have been sold for the game between these hated rivals. It’s believed that the Florida single game collegiate regular season baseball attendance record of 8,277 was set when Miami hosted the Texas Longhorns on February 9^th , 1986.

The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville has a seating capacity of 10,000.

The Gators are led by Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week award winner Matt LaPorta. The Port Charlotte native has been honored as the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week for the past two weeks.

LaPorta is hitting .430 with 13 home runs and 29 RBI’s. Those numbers are especially staggering considering LaPorta has walked 23 times (3^rd most in the SEC) and has been hit by a league high 14 pitches.

The slugging first baseman recently established a University of Florida school record with home runs in five consecutive games. He is currently tied for third in Southeastern Conference history with 67 home runs. He shares the mark with former Mississippi State star Rafael Palmeiro. Former LSU star Eddy Furniss (1995-98) holds the Southeastern Conference career home run mark with 80.

Freshman right hander Clint Franklin (0-1, 7.36 ERA) will get the start for the Gators. The former Orlando Timber Creek High School graduate was saddled with the loss two weeks ago when he started a mid-week contest against Stetson. Franklin struggled in the first inning, but settled down to pitch into the third. Florida pitching coach Ross Jones has worked with Franklin and believes that he has made progress.

In fact, Florida’s freshmen hurlers appear to be coming around, as they’ve pitched very well of late. Southpaw Tony Davis (2-0) pitched 5.1 strong innings, allowing only one earned run as he picked up the win on the road over Georgia this past weekend.

Fellow freshman Billy Bullock (2-3) also allowed the ‘Dawgs only one earned run in 5.2 innings of work on Saturday. The win was picked up by yet another fabulous freshman. Jacksonville Bishop Kenny High School graduate Kyle Mullaney (2-0) secured the win in that contest, throwing 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball to nail down the sweep of the Bulldogs.

The Seminoles (29-2) will counter with right hander Caleb Graham (1-1, 1.90 ERA).

It’s possible that hot-hitting right fielder Brian Leclerc (.361) will start for the Gators He missed the Georgia series after straining a hamstring in a mid-week contest against Bethune-Cookman. The wet, rainy conditions in Athens didn’t allow Leclerc the opportunity to perhaps test the hamstring out against the ‘Dawgs on Sunday.

The Gators (18-13, 7-2) are two games up in the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division over Vanderbilt and South Carolina. The Gators will host the Gamecocks this weekend at McKethan Stadium.

Eastern Division

  1. Florida 7-2
  2. Vanderbilt 5-4
  3. South Carolina 5-4
  4. Kentucky 4-4-1
  5. Tennessee 4-5
  6. Georgia 3-6

Western Division

  1. Arkansas 7-2
  2. Ole Miss 5-4
  3. Mississippi State 5-4
  4. Alabama 4-5
  5. LSU 3-5-1
  6. Auburn 1-8

Over the next month, Florida will face the following brutal schedule:

  • vs #1 Florida State (at Jacksonville)
  • vs #5 South Carolina
  • vs #5 South Carolina
  • vs #5 South Carolina
  • at #1 Florida State
  • at #3 Arkansas
  • at #3 Arkansas
  • at #3 Arkansas
  • vs #11 Kentucky
  • vs #11 Kentucky
  • vs #11 Kentucky
  • at #4 Vanderbilt
  • at #4 Vanderbilt
  • at #4 Vanderbilt

This is tremendously talented young baseball team. Whether it be the Baseball Grounds in Jax, Tallahassee, or The Mac- The Gators need your support.