The Florida Gators baseball team is off to a great start to the 2023 season, holding a 16-3 record entering their first SEC series.
Kevin O’Sullivan’s squad has jumped two spots in D1Baseball’s rankings since Opening Day, moving up to No.5 in the most recent poll.
No. 5 Florida is set for a three-game series against No.24 Alabama inside Condron Ballpark.
DATES, TIMES, AND BROADCAST INFO
(all times eastern)
GAME ONE: Thursday, March 16th at 7:00 PM / SEC NETWORK
GAME TWO: Friday, March 17th at 6:30 PM / SEC NETWORK+
GAME THREE: Saturday, March 18th at 4:00 PM / SEC NETWORK+
This is one of four weekend series’ for the Gators that start on Thursday and end on Saturday.
With heavy rain expected in Gainesville on Saturday, keep an eye out for a possible announcement moving Saturday’s game to Friday, allowing for a doubleheader to close the series.
Thursday: Brandon Sproat (3-0, 3.92 ERA) vs. Grayson Hitt (2-1, 4.76 ERA)
Friday: Hurston Waldrep (3-0, 3.86 ERA) vs. Ben Huss (3-0, 1.83 ERA)
Saturday: Jac Caglianone (3-0, 1.77 ERA) vs. Jacob McNairy (2-1, 6.19 ERA)
Neither team has changed their weekend rotation since opening weekend.
CRIMSON TIDE BASEBALL
Alabama got off to a red-hot start, winning the first 14 games on their schedule to start the season while climbing as high as No.18 on D1baseball’s rankings.
Last weekend, the Crimson Tide dropped two of three games to Columbia on their home turf, including a 15-3 beatdown in the rubber-match.
Alabama got back into the win column their last time out, defeating South Alabama 4-0 in their lone midweek game.
Much like Florida, Alabama is one of the best hitting teams in the country, ranking in the top five in batting average (3rd), hits (5th), slugging percentage (5th) and home runs (5th). The Crimson Tide also rank 8th in runs scored.
Out of those five statistics, Alabama edges out Florida in just batting average, and it’s a near tie. The Crimson Tide are batting .349 this season while the Gators are hitting .348.
Alabama has three starters hitting above the .400 mark, including former Florida Gator Mac Guscette, who boasts a .412 batting average with five home runs in 12 starts.
Freshman Colby Shelton is another player to watch at the plate as he holds a batting average of .339 and has a team leading 10 home runs on the season, just three shy of the Nation’s leader, Jac Caglianone.
Alabama isn’t just impressive at the plate; their 3.43 team ERA ranks 23rd in college baseball and their WHIP of 1.29 is good enough for 39th.
Crimson Tide pitchers have struck out 186 batters this season, creating a K/9 of 11, which ranks 28th in the country.
The Gators’ bullpen has been this teams Achilles heel in 2023, and the task doesn’t get any easier facing a dangerous Alabama team.
Kevin O’Sullivan has less than a handful of pitchers he trusts out of the bullpen, including Brandon Neely, Cade Fisher, and Nick Ficarrotta. To win this series, someone is going to need to step up and throw big innings.
Florida will need sharp outings from their weekend rotation to minimize the stress on the Gators’ struggling bullpen.
Alabama doesn’t quite have the star power that Florida has at the plate or in the weekend rotation, but they are plenty good enough to come into Gainesville and beat the Gators in a three-game series. The two teams match up very similarly statistically.
Starting SEC play off with a series win would create tons of momentum as Florida looks to get healthier in the coming weeks.