Gators Look to Extend 21-Game Home Win Streak

If it was any other opponent coming to Gainesville this weekend, the potential for a hangover from Tuesday's loss to Florida State might be there. Miami coming to town should eliminate the potential problem. No. 1 Florida has dominated the series against the Hurricanes in recent years, and Miami brings a young team into McKethan Stadium this weekend.

Miami isn't coming to Gainesville on a hot streak. The No. 24 Hurricanes are 4-4 on the season, including losses to Rutgers, Florida Atlantic, Appalachian State and USF.

"They may not have played as well as they wanted to up to now, but they're going to play well," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "Everybody goes through a stretch where they don't play quite as well as they want to."

The reason for the dip in wins has come after losing multiple pitchers from last season. The Hurricanes lost weekend starters Chris Hernandez, David Gutierrez and Jason Santana. Closer Daniel Miranda returns, but it has been a struggle to get the ball to him with a lead in the first eight games of the season.

The three starters will face their biggest road test of the year this weekend after making only a combined five starts last season. Their only true road game this season came at Florida Atlantic.

Don't expect the Gators to take them lightly, though.

"It's Miami," senior second baseman Josh Adams said about why his team won't overlook the Hurricanes. "They've been good for years and years- plus they are a rival, too. We won't overlook anybody, especially them."

It might be easier for the young Hurricanes if the Gators hadn't played so well at McKethan Stadium lately. Florida is currently riding a school record 21-game winning streak at home, including 11 straight series wins, dating back to a series loss at home against Ole Miss April 17-19, 2009.

The Hurricanes will throw freshman left-hander Bryan Radzierski (1-0, 0.82). Florida will counter with sophomore left-hander Brian Johnson (2-0, 0.00). Johnson has allowed three hits all season, and opponents are hitting .081 against him.

Radzierski has made his first two starts at home for Miami. He brings a four-pitch mix of fastball, curveball, changeup and cutter. The fastball sits in the upper 80s and he must locate to be successful.

"I haven't seen much of him this year since he only has two starts under his belt," O'Sullivan said. "I've seen him in high school- he's competitive and has a good pickoff move. The biggest thing is he's competitive."

Saturday will see the Hurricanes send sophomore right-hander EJ Encinosa (0-1, 6.00) to the mound. He was a key reliever last season and made four starts on the year. Florida will counter with sophomore right-hander Hudson Randall (1-0, 1.64). Randall has struck out ten hitters in eleven innings and is yet to issue a walk.

Miami will throw sophomore right-hander Eric Whaley (2-0, 2.13) on Sunday against Florida freshman right-hander Karsten Whitson (2-0, 0.00).

The Florida pitching staff has recorded at least eight strikeouts in every game this year.

Miami's pitching staff is young, but O'Sullivan still sees plenty of talent on the mound for the Hurricanes.

"I think their starting pitching is really good," O'Sullivan said. "They have a proven closer, plus a sidearm guy from the right and from the left."

The young Hurricanes have the tough task of trying to turn around a rivalry that the Gators have dominated recently. Florida has won six of the last seven over Miami, including four of five last year. The Gators won a Super Regional matchup over Miami in two games and punched their ticket to the College World Series.

Miami will also be without head coach Jim Morris this weekend after he had his gall bladder removed.

"I always like to see him and have a great deal of respect for him," O'Sullivan said. "He's one of the best coaches in the college game, and he has been for a long time."

The Miami offense only has four regular hitters batting over .240 right now. Freshman first baseman Brad Fieger leads the way hitting .333. Junior third baseman Harold Martinez was a Preseason Third Team All-American, but he has come out of the gates slow, hitting .192 with one home run and four RBIs.

"They've got some speed in the lineup," O'Sullivan said.. Martinez is one of the better hitters in the country."

First pitch on Friday night is set for 7 p.m.

Fightin Gators Top Stories