Gators Head South To Miami

The rivalry has been one-sided in recent years. Florida has beat Miami in eight straight games and 11 of the last 12 matchups, including the Gators ending Miami's season in each of the last three years. However, during those seasons, Miami's pitching staff hasn't been as stout as it is this spring. The Hurricanes' depth on the mound will challenge a Florida offense that hasn't yet hit its stride.

The Friday matchup will see Miami send sixth year senior Eric Erickson (2-0, 0.00) to the mound against Florida ace Hudson Randall (1-0, 3.00). Erickson has struck out 16 in 13 innings and allowed just eight hits and hasn't walked an opponent. Erickson, who has gone through Tommy John surgery twice in his Miami career, has allowed just one extra base hit this year.

Randall has given up 10 hits in 12 innings this year, including seven extra base hits. The junior right-hander hasn't been sharp early in the season, but he locked in at the end of his start against William & Mary to sit down 11 straight hitters before coming out. First pitch on Friday is set for 7 p.m.

The Saturday game will feature two juniors on the mound. Miami will start right-hander Eric Whaley (1-0, 0.75) against Florida left-hander Brian Johnson (1-0, 0.87). Whaley has struck out 13 hitters in 12 innings this season, allowing just one walk and five hits, only one coming for extra bases.

Johnson has been the sharpest of Florida's starters so far this year, but his control isn't what it was last season. Johnson has walked three hitters in 10.1 innings this year but just one run. Johnson has struck out seven hitters. First pitch on Saturday is 7 p.m.

There's uncertainty around who Florida will start on the mound Sunday. Karsten Whitson isn't expected to pitch because of what Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan called "early season arm stuff," after the sophomore's arm didn't respond correctly after his season-opening outing against Cal State Fullerton.

The starter Sunday will depend on how on how the first two games go. Relievers Greg Larson(0-0, 3.60), Steven Rodriguez (2-0, 4.76) or Austin Maddox (1-0, 0.00) could get the ball if they aren't overused Friday or Saturday, or sophomore right-hander Jonathon Crawford (1-1, 6.43) could get the ball.

Miami will send left-hander Bryan Radziewski (1-0, 5.59) to the mound. The sophomore has given up 14 hits in 9.2 innings during the first two weekends, including six walks. He was the ace of the Hurricanes' staff last season. First pitch on Sunday is 1 p.m.

The Hurricanes weren't sure how their offense would produce this season, but it has started the season on a tear. The only question mark is the schedule. Miami has experienced weekend series against Rutgers and Albany, mixing in midweek wins over Florida Gulf Coast and Florida Atlantic.

Senior catcher Peter O'Brien, who got an NCAA waiver to play this year after transferring from Bethune-Cookman, is hitting .500 (15-30) with three home runs and 10 RBIs. O'Brien is the only Miami player with more than one home run.

Five other Miami starters are hitting over .300.

Third baseman Esteban Tresgallo is hitting .391 (9-23) with three RBIs. He has started seven of eight games this year.

Center fielder Dale Carey (.345), shortstop Michael Broad (.345), left fielder Rony Rodriguez (.314) and first baseman Brad Fieger (.308) have also gotten off to hot starts for Miami. There's also a familiar name in the lineup—designated hitter Tyler Palmer, who is hitting leadoff for the Hurricanes this year. Palmer went 4-14 (.286) for the Gators last season as a freshman before he decided to transfer.


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