No.4 Florida vs. No.19 Kentucky baseball preview

No.4 Florida is set to close out the regular season with a three-game series against No.19 Kentucky inside Proud Park this weekend.

The Gators (40-12, 18-9 SEC) have won each of the last five series over the Wildcats, dating back to 2017.

Florida leads the all-time series by a 146-71-1 tally while holding a record of 62-38-1 in Lexington. The Gators are 25-20 in the series under Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan including a 11-10 record on the road.


Game 1: Thursday, May 18th at 6:30 PM / SECN+

Game 2: Friday, May 19th at 6:30 PM / SECN+

Game 3: Saturday, May 20th at 2:00 PM / SECN+


Thursday: RHP Hurston Waldrep (6-3, 5.00 ERA) vs. RHP Travis Smith (4-2, 4.81 ERA)

Friday: RHP Brandon Sproat (7-2, 4.44 ERA) vs. RHP Zack Lee (4-2, 3.42 ERA)

Saturday: LHP Jac Caglianone (5-2, 4.47 ERA) vs. TBA

Waldrep will make his first opening series start for the Gators as the right hander tossed just 10 pitches last weekend. Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan wants to keep Brandon Sproat on seven days’ rest, so he’ll throw during game two of the series.


No.19 Kentucky enters the weekend holding an impressive record of 35-15 (15-12 SEC), marking their highest win total in both the regular season and conference play since 2017.

The Wildcats’ offense resembles more of an old school / small ball lineup than what we traditionally see in today’s game of baseball.  Nick Mingione’s squad has a team slash line of 300/.426/.452 this season. Kentucky’s batting average ranks 49th in division one baseball while there on base percentage ranks 8th.

Finding ways to get on base can be a key to success. Kentucky ranks inside the top 21 in both walks (21st) and hit by pitch (9th).

Kentucky will look to move runners into scoring position any way they can as the Wildcats rank 4th in sacrifice bunts with 51 on the season and 42nd in stolen bases per game with 1.72. Kentucky attempts 2.24 stolen bases a game as they’ve been caught stealing 26 times.

“I sat there and watched Kentucky play yesterday and they are a handful,” Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan said after Sunday’s series finale. “They run the bases, they do some unconventional things, they bunt.”

The Wildcats have pitched to a 4.21 ERA in 2023, which ranks 22nd in college baseball. While their 434 strikeouts in 429 1/3 frames is impressive, Kentucky pitchers have no problem letting opposing teams put the ball in play as they are backed by a .984 fielding percentage, the second highest in the country.


Trailing Arkansas (19-8) by one game for the top spot in the SEC, the Gators have several paths to an outright or shared SEC Championship this weekend. If Florida sweeps Kentucky and Vanderbilt wins at least two games at home vs. Arkansas, Florida would be the sole SEC Champion. If Florida wins one more game than Arkansas does, the two would share the 2023 SEC title. However, if Florida wins two of three at UK, Vanderbilt sweeps Arkansas and Georgia wins at least once against LSU, then the Gators would share the title with the Dores.


  • With seven strikeouts against Kentucky, right-hander Brandon Sproat would eclipse 100 strikeouts in a season for the first time in his career
  • Florida relievers combined for a 1.59 ERA and 11 strikeouts vs. three walks in 11 1/3 innings vs. Vanderbilt last weekend
  • Florida ranks seventh nationally and is in line to set a school record with 10.9 strikeouts per nine as a team (9.9 in 2016)
  • The Gators have double-digit strikeouts in 33 of 52 games
  • Nearly half (42.5%) of Florida’s wins this season have been in comeback fashion (17), surpassing last year’s 66-game total of 13 (30.1%)





Nick Marcinko
Nick is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. He is passionate about all sports but specifically baseball and football. Nick interned at Inside the Gators and worked part time with Knights247 before joining the Gator Country family. Nick enjoys spending his free time golfing and at the beach.