That'll have to happen soon. The Florida offense continued to sputter, but it especially happened after getting runners on base. The Gators had nine hits, worked five walks and reached base four times on hit by pitches. None of those turned into runs until the final swing of the game in the 11th inning. It was Florida's fourth time last 10+ runners on base in 14 games this season.
The Florida coaches have done everything they can to break the offensive slump. They've tried to give the team some time away from the game, taking them to a movie on Monday night. While practicing Thursday, the Gators scrimmaged with a loose environment. The teams knows its struggling, so the coaches are trying to be encouraging and optimistic to get them out of the hitting slump.
"It can't stay like this all year long. It can't. There's no way," Kevin O'Sullivan said. "Maybe tonight's the night it changes. I keep telling them that it's going to change. At some point, we're going to be the offensive team that we think we can be. It will happen. I don't know if its tonight, tomorrow night or Sunday night, but at some point, the tide is going to turn. We just have to stay the course."
The hitters aren't getting the job done at the plate. Florida had two opportunities with a runner on third base and less than two outs on Friday, and the run was stuck out third base both times. In the last 16 opportunities with a runner on third and less than two outs, it has only scored six times. That number combined with Friday's 14 left on base has bred frustration through the Florida dugout, but it's something that coaches and players believe will end soon.
"At some point, they've got to go out and play," O'Sullivan said. "Just execute. They're not getting coached any differently than they have in years past. We just have to have better at-bats when we need them."
While the offense struggled, the pitching staff was dominant. Freshman Logan Shore threw seven shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 0.45 in 20 innings this season. The right-hander has entrenched himself as Florida's Friday night starter going into the SEC opener next weekend. On Friday, Shore allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out four hitters over seven innings of work.
"I couldn't have pictured it going any better than this so far," Shore said.
The Florida bullpen tossed four scoreless innings, allowing four hits and one walk.
The Gators will aim to clinch the series on Saturday at 3 p.m. Florida will send freshman left-hander A.J. Puk to the mound. Fans who present their Kentucky basketball ticket at the gate will be given free admission.