Sunday: There weren’t many positives for Florida during the first two games of the series. Sunday provided a lot of them. The Gators got dominant pitching to hold a hot Kentucky offense to just one run, and the Florida bats woke up from a three-game slumber. It was too late to help Florida win the series, but it should help the Gators carry some momentum into this week before traveling to take on Georgia on Friday in Athens.
Two starting pitchers: Logan Shore and Alex Faedo were good this weekend. Shore pitched well enough to win Friday, tossing 7.1 innings with nine hits and three runs allowed while striking out seven. Faedo allowed six hits and one run while striking out four over 5.1 innings on the mound.
It gives Kevin O’Sullivan some sense of clarity with a pitching staff that hasn’t provided much this year. When asked after the game Sunday if Faedo had cemented himself as the third starter, O’Sullivan said he might have even earned the Saturday starter job after Dane Dunning faltered against the Wildcats.
National seed race: Florida needed the series win to hold serve in its fight for a national seed. Most projections had Florida as the No. 4-6 overall seed going into the weekend, but now there are questions. LSU and Texas A&M seem to be in good shape for national seeds barring a late-season collapse. If the Southeastern Conference is going to get three national seeds, which seems likely, it will come down to Florida and Vanderbilt.
The Commodores swept a weekend series against Missouri and look to be playing well. The decision between Florida and Vanderbilt could come down to their meeting in Nashville May 8-10. The Commodores play well at home and could be seen as the favorite for a national seed at this point because of the home field advantage.
Hitting: Nothing that happened for the first 17 innings of the series made sense. The Florida offense was one of the best in the country during the previous week but scored just two runs in the first 17 innings against Kentucky. A four-run breakout in the ninth inning woke up the bats, but the damage from the weekend was already done.
It’s likely just a two-game problem for an offense that has proven to be one of the best in the country throughout the year.
Dunning: On April 18, Dane Dunning looked like a future star against Mississippi State. His fastball was moving everywhere, producing a lot of ground balls and weak contact. On April 25 against Kentucky, Dunning was lost. He hit three straight hitters in the second inning and lasted just 1.1 innings before being pulled.
Despite his great start against Mississippi State, the inconsistency is why O’Sullivan is forced to reassess his rotation. Dunning his a top-five round arm, but he hasn’t harnessed it yet.