The Florida Gators jumped three spots to No.4 in D1Baseball’s Top 25 following their weekend series sweep over No.12 Vanderbilt (previously No.5).
Gator Country provides three takeaways from Florida’s three-win weekend.
ALL THREE PHASES
Before the series started, I stated that Florida would need to play their best stretch of baseball to take down the Commadores; they did exactly that last weekend.
The Gators excelled in all three phases of the game. Florida matched their combined run total from last weekend against Texas A&M (10) in the seven innings of game one against Vanderbilt. The Orange and Blue scored 22 combined runs against the 27th best pitching staff in the country, including 30 hits and five home runs. Part of this success could be credited to the fact that Vanderbilt scratched two of their weekend starters against Florida. However, the Gators found five earned runs against Vanderbilt’s Saturday starter Devin Futrell, who had not allowed more than three runs to any team all season. Even if the Commadores had a completely healthy weekend rotation, it likely wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the series due to Florida’s electrifying weekend on the mound.
Kevin O’Sullivan’s pitching staff allowed just three earned runs in the series, the lowest earned run total an opposing team has held Vanderbilt to in 2023, with UCLA and Alabama tied for second lowest with seven earned runs allowed vs. the Commadores. Brandon Sproat and Jac Caglianone gave Florida quality starts while the Gators’ bullpen stepped in with eight innings of relief in Saturday’s weather delay game. If Florida can just find half of last weekend’s success on the mound, they will be a tough out in postseason play.
Despite allowing two errors, the Gators flashed the leather last weekend, saving multiple runs with highlight reel plays. Deric Fabian, Wyatt Langford, Josh Rivera, and BT Riopelle were the MVPs defensively.
“I don’t care who you sweep, but that team in the other dugout is pretty darn good,” Kevin O’Sullivan said after Sunday’s win. “They can swing the bats, we just did a good job this weekend pitching-wise. I think the key to this weekend was keeping Enrique (Bradfield Jr.) off the basepaths. It was just one of those weekends… Sometimes it’s not who you play, it’s when you play them, and we played pretty darn well this weekend.”
HOME SERIES SUCCESS
The Gators finished the 2023 regular season with a perfect 9-0 series record inside Condron Family Ballpark, including a 30-6 overall record at home. Florida has won 11 straight home series dating back to last season. This bodes well for the Gators who sit in a great spot for a top 8 national seed, which would ensure home series in the Regionals and Super Regionals, should the Gators get that far. If Florida is selected as a national host, they wouldn’t play a postseason road game until the College World Series.
RACE FOR SEC TITLE
Not only did the Gators put themselves in a great position entering postseason play, but Florida now has a real shot at claiming an SEC championship.
Florida (18-9 SEC) sits just one game behind Arkansas (19-8 SEC) with three conference games left. The Razorbacks travel to Nashville to take on No.12 Vanderbilt while Florida travels to Lexington to take on No.19 Kentucky.
The Gators can take the SEC championship with a sweep of Kentucky and Vanderbilt winning at least one game over the Razorbacks.
Other teams to look out for are LSU (17-9 SEC), and Vanderbilt (17-10 SEC).