Florida Offense Continues to Sputter

The best part about Sunday's game for the Gators is that the month of April will be over before their next game. The Florida offense continued to struggle and was dominated by Arkansas senior DJ Baxendale, who allowed one run over 7.1 innings. The Razorbacks scored two runs in the tenth inning to pull out a 3-1 win and the series victory over No. 2 Florida.

"We've been in a funk for a while," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said after Sunday's loss. "It started out 20-1, then all of a sudden, we didn't play as well. We haven't played great in a while.

"I do believe that we'll get out of this thing and be a better team because of it. It's just very hard right now. It's our job to get these guys back and going the way they're capable. It has been a tough stretch for us."

The Gators finished up the month of April with a 9-9 record. Coming into April, the team boasted a 24-3 record. Florida has stumbled to a 6-7 conference record during April.

On Sunday, they lost another chance to make up ground in the conference standings with Kentucky and LSU losing. The loss to Arkansas kept Florida at a 12-9 conference record, two games behind Kentucky, LSU and South Carolina for the conference lead.

The Gators will head to Kentucky for a conference series starting on Thursday.

"It's tough knowing we're on the road next weekend losing a series at home, but I think we've put the same mindsets into our games on the road," senior outfielder Daniel Pigott said. "To be honest with you, I think we'll be alright. It's definitely tough, but I don't think it's going to be tougher on the road."

There is a hole that the Florida offense needs to dig out of for the team to get corrected. The Gators scored three runs in Friday night's series opener before scoring just once on Saturday and Sunday.

The Gators have scored more than three runs just twice in the last eight games.

"It has just been very hard for us to score runs," O'Sullivan said. "Teams go through this. We're not immune to it. We'll get through it. It's a difficult time now, but we will get through it and be better for it."

The Gators got on the board just once in Sunday's loss. Preston Tucker tied the game in the eighth inning with an RBI groundout. Mike Zunino then grounded out with runners on second and third to end the threat.

The game went to extra innings, where Florida closer Austin Maddox was pulled three pitches into the tenth inning. O'Sullivan went to the mound and could tell that something wasn't right with Maddox, but he wouldn't specify on what wasn't correct.

"It didn't look real sharp, and I could tell something was up," O'Sullivan said. "I haven't asked him any questions or talked to a trainer. It was just precautionary because the last one didn't look right. We wanted to make sure we did the right thing."

Florida brought in John Magliozzi. After hitting the leadoff batter and making the play on a sacrifice bunt, Tim Carver and Michael Gunn had back-to-back singles to get on the board. Daniel Gibson allowed Gunn's single and induced a ground ball from Dominic Ficociello, but he beat it out to stay out of the double play so that another run could score.

Florida went down in order during the tenth inning against Arkansas closer Barrett Astin.

"We need to do a better job of getting leadoff men on," O'Sullivan said. "I remember three times we hit the ball firm, but there were two outs and nobody on. We need to do a better job when we start innings."

Jonathon Crawford started the game allowing one run in 4.2 innings and striking out six. Steven Rodriguez and Maddox combined for 4.1 shutout innings before Maddox was removed from the game.

Florida doesn't have a midweek game this week but opens its next conference series at Kentucky on May 3 on ESPNU.

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