No.7 Florida is set to host No.5 Vanderbilt for a critical three-game series inside Condon Family Ballpark.
The Gators (37-12, 15-9 SEC) dropped to No.7 in D1Baseball’s Top 25 after their series loss at Texas A&M, leading to Florida’s lowest ranking since week two of the season.
Despite a rough couple of weeks for the Gators, Kevin O’Sullivan’s squad trails Vanderbilt by just two conference games with two series left. The Commadores (35-13, 17-7 SEC) sit atop the SEC East and are tied with Arkansas for the best conference record in the SEC.
These two teams last met in Gainesville in 2021, when the Gators took two of three games for a series win (L 7-11, W 11-8, W 5-3). Vanderbilt took 2/3 games last year in Nashville.
The home team has claimed the last four series between Florida and Vanderbilt, while the Gators have claimed five of the last seven series overall.
Florida holds an impressive 143-78-1 series lead over the Commadores while posting an 81-24 record in Gainesville.
DATES, TIMES, AND BROADCAST INFO
Game 1: Friday, May 12th at 5:30 PM / SEC Network
Game 2: Saturday, May 13th at 6:30 PM / SEC Network+
Game 3: Sunday, May 14th at 1:00 PM / SEC Network+
Friday: RHP Brandon Sproat (6-2, 4.84 ERA) vs. LHP Carter Holton (4-1, 4.11 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Hurston Waldrep (6-3, 5.07 ERA) vs. LHP Devin Futrell (6-2, 2.42 ERA)
Sunday: LHP Jac Caglianone (4-2, 4.91 ERA) vs. LHP Hunter Owen (4-0, 3.16 ERA)
Florida is set to face a trio of left handers for the second time this season (Georgia).
SCOUTING THE COMMADORES
Vanderbilt comes into the series after losing two of three games to Alabama last weekend and five of their last nine SEC games.
The Dores are slashing .280/.387/.461 with 62 home runs as a team while pitching to a 4.03 ERA, which ranks 16th in division one baseball. Their 472 strikeouts across 428 1/3 innings ranks 34th in the country in strikeouts per nine innings while Florida ranks 8th in that category.
Defensively, Vanderbilt boasts a .981 fielding percentage with just 31 errors in 48 games, good enough for 8th in college baseball.
Great pitching and defense is the scouting report on Vanderbilt in 2023, which seems to be a yearly trend for the Commadores.
HOME SERIES SUCCESS
The Gators are looking to go a perfect 9-0 in home series throughout the 2023 regular season. Florida has won 10 straight series inside Condron Ballpark dating back to last season.
Florida is 20-4 in home series with four sweeps this season alone, hitting .330/.437/.606 with 9.6 runs/game, 10.9 hits/game and 4.9 runs allowed/game.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
Florida is going to need to play their best stretch of baseball this season in order to take down the Commadores this weekend.
The Gators need Brandon Sproat and Hurston Waldrep to find their groove against Vandy. A lot of chatter has been on Florida’s Sunday starter, Jac Caglianone. However, the Gators didn’t find a quality start from any of their starting pitchers a weekend ago.
Lastly, Florida’s bats need to come alive. The Gators are coming off a miserable weekend at the plate against a below average SEC pitching staff in Texas A&M, and the task won’t get any easier for the Gators. Florida will need to take advantage of the scoring opportunities they get throughout the weekend, as they might be few and far between.
A series win would be huge for the Gators’ hopes of being a national seed in 2023.
- LHP Philip Abner has produced scoreless appearances in 12 of his 19 outings.
- RHP Brandon Neely leads the SEC in saves with 10, four more than any other player in the conference.
- Tyler Shelnut is batting .324/.390/.501 across 34 SEC at bats.
- Wyatt Langford has reached base or scored a run in all but two games.
- Jac Caglianone leads the SEC in slugging (.853) and home runs with five more homers than any other player while ranking fifth nationally in slugging and sixth with 69 RBI (second in SEC).
- Jac Caglianone leads the country in home runs with 27.
- Josh Rivera’s 14 homers is one shy from tying Brady McConnell (15 – 2019) for the most by a UF shortstop.
- Just under half (45.9%) of Florida’s wins this season have been in comeback fashion (17), surpassing last year’s 66-game total of 13 (19.7%).