Renewed Pitching and Offense Lead to Sweep

Home was a welcomed sight for the Gators. After a 4-4 road trip, Florida was scuffling. Players and coaches would admit it, and the frustration at the end of the road trip wasn't tough to sense. What a difference coming home can make for a team. The starting pitching fueled the Gators' three-game sweep of Alabama, but it also featured an offense that is showing positive signs at the right time.

The starting pitching was nothing short of dominant for Florida. Hudson Randall, Brian Johnson and Karsten Whitson combined to throw 18 innings, allowing 14 hits, four walks and two runs. The starters threw 175 of their 256 pitches for strikes, good for 68.4%.

They only struck out 13 hitters, but that number was hindered when Randall only struck out one in 6.1 innings. While he hurt the staff's strikeout numbers, he managed to throw 6.1 scoreless innings.

The combined record for the three starting pitchers is 17-2.

The scariest news for Florida opponents was Whitson's start on Sunday. The freshman right-hander came into the game with a 2.38 ERA, but he still hadn't put together a complete start where his control was where it needed to be. That came Sunday. Whitson lasted 6.2 innings, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out seven hitters. He threw 60 of his 84 pitches for strikes.

Whitson's previous career high was 5.1 innings, but he went 6.2 innings on Sunday on only 84 pitches. The early season struggles with control ran his pitch count up early in games, and he wasn't able to go deep into games.

Another positive came out of the bullpen. The relief pitchers struggled on the road trip, costing the team a few wins. Against Alabama, the bullpen tossed ten scoreless innings, allowing seven hits, three walks and striking out nine hitters. They didn't allow any inherited runners to score.

The Florida offense has been inconsistent for most of the season, but this weekend's stats are tough to ignore. The Gators were held to two runs on Sunday, but they put 16 runs on the board in the first two games. Florida even put up ten hits on Sunday. It was a welcomed sign from an offense that scored five or less runs in five of the eight games on the road trip.

The Gators went 34-98 (.346) at the plate this weekend. The only downfall for the offense is that it only worked four walks, but there were only eight strikeouts by Florida hitters in the three games. The Gators depended on the long ball in the first two games, when four different players hit a home run.

The best sign of the weekend came after Friday night's game was over. Randall and Josh Adams both spoke about the team's new confidence, referring to it as "swag." After Wednesday's loss to UCF, there were multiple team meetings before the series opener against Miami. Head coach Kevin O'Sullivan told the team that they weren't playing with an edge like he wanted. Randall, the ace of the staff, suggested "swag" become their new mantra as a team. It stuck, and there looked to be an added confidence with the team in the field, at the plate and in the dugout.

The Gators get the week off from games for final exams. It gives them a chance to rest arms and build on the confidence produced from the weekend. It's only a start, but it looks like the trip home could be just what the team needed.


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