Gators open 2019 baseball season hosting Dirtbags

The Florida Gators will host the best name in college baseball when the Dirtbags of Long Beach State come to town to kick off the 2019 season.

Florida opens the season ranked No. 6 in the country by D1Baseball.com.

In this decade no team has won more game than the Florida Gators (421) but this is a new team for Kevin O’Sullivan. Yes, the Gators return a lot of starts (the projected opening day lineup has a combined 525 starts) but there is a lot of youth. Most of this year’s ballclub is comprised of sophomores and freshmen.

Schedule
Friday – 6:30 pm (SEC Network+)
Saturday – 4:00 pm (SEC Network+)
Sunday – 12:00 pm (SEC Network+)

Dyson gets the nod
Baseball America wrote a story in June 2018 calling Florida “Pitching U.” A big part of that is the success that the Gators have had from their Friday night starters. You can go back to Hudson Randall, Logan Shore, Alex Faedo, Brady Singer and it’s a long list of first round talent that showed up every Friday and excelled. Tyler Dyson will get the opportunity to join that list of Friday night starters.

Dyson’s freshman campaign ended in a dog pile on the mound in Omaha. He was a stud for the Gators on the mound at the end of his freshman campaign. His sophomore season was derailed by a nagging shoulder injury.

What Tyler Dyson will show up in 2019? The one that stymied a potent LSU lineup on the biggest stage that college baseball has to offer or the one that struggled to get out of the fifth inning in 2018?

Oh captain my captains
In 2018 Kevin O’Sullivan named JJ Schwarz the team captain. It was the first time in 10 seasons that O’Sullivan named a captain for his ballclub but it is something that will become a tradition.

Florida has two seniors this year and both of them were named captains. Blake Reese and Nelson Maldonado will share the responsibility in 2019.

Fresh faces
O’Sullivan plans to start three true freshmen in the starting lineup Friday night. That will match the most for an O’Sullivan led ballclub in his 11 seasons at Florida.
2015 (C M.Rivera, 2B D.Guthrie, DH J.Schwarz)
2014 (LF R.Larson, CF B.Reed, DH P.Alonso)
2012 (2B C.Turgeon, 3B J.Tobias, DH T.Gushue)
2010 (C M.Zunino, SS N.Fontana, DH A.Maddox)

Jud Fabian will start in center field, Kendrick Calilao will start at first and Cory Acton will start at third base. Calilao is the first true freshman to start at first base on opening night for O’Sullivan.

Series History
The Gators and Dirtbags played three-game series in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Florida won all three series 2-1.

Pitching Matchups
Friday: RHP Tyler Dyson vs. LHP Adam Seminaris
Saturday: RHP Tommy Mace vs. LHP Zak Baayoun
Sunday: RHP Jack Leftwich vs. LHP Alfredo Ruiz

Projected lineup
LF – Austin Langworthy
SS – Brady McConnell
DH – Nelson Maldonado
RF – Wil Dalton
1B – Kendrick Calilao
3B – Cory Acton
C – Brady Smith
2B – Blake Reese
CF – Jud Fabian

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC