Tobias ready for senior weekend with Gators

Josh Tobias always wanted to play at Florida when he was going through the recruiting process.

Both of his parents graduated from Florida (38-14/17-10 SEC) and playing college baseball in Gainesville just made sense. The days of watching him playing as a recruit seem like just yesterday for Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan, but the senior third baseman will play his final regular season home series.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” O’Sullivan said. “The four years just seemed to fly by. It just seemed like yesterday we were recruiting him in high school and going through the summer tour, going to East Coast Pro and seeing those tournaments in Atlanta. Now it’s his last home regular season weekend.

“I’m really pleased with how his career has come full circle. He has been a great leader on and off the field. He’s had a tremendous year for us.”

The Gators have only had 12 seniors over the last five seasons. Most players finish their junior year and head on to the professional level. Tobias had other desires. He wanted to stay at Florida and finish his degree, but there was also unfinished business on the diamond.

Through his first three years, Tobias had a .273 batting average with four home runs and 36 RBI in 172 at-bats. This season has been the breakout he was waiting for. In 166 at-bats as a senior, Tobias is hitting .361 with four home runs and 31 RBI.

“The hard work is paying off and you can finally see it coming through,” Josh Tobias said. It’s always good to have a big season in your last season.”

Even with the big offensive jump, the most impressive part of Tobias’ game is his defense. He has made zero errors in 101 chances this season.

“He’s been playing a phenomenal third base all year,” Florida ace Logan Shore said.

Tobias now leads the Gators into their final regular season series of the year. Its mathematically possible that Florida wins the SEC, but the Gators would need to sweep Auburn this weekend and get a lot of help from other conference teams. There’s still a lot on the line as Florida tries to secure one of the eight national seeds that would allow the team to play only home games before a potential berth in the College World Series.

Last weekend’s road series win at Vanderbilt gave the team momentum, and now they’re trying to close the regular season on a high note.

It’ll have to come against an Auburn (33-20/12-15 SEC) team that’s desperate to get into the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers were in good shape heading into last weekend before being swept by Alabama.

“They’ve been playing very good up until last weekend,” O’Sullivan said. “We expect them to come play well this weekend. They’ve got a lot to play for, and we’ve got a lot to play for.”

The Gators will send right-hander Logan Shore (6-5, 2.85) to the mound on Thursday against Auburn pitcher Cole Lipscomb (6-2, 2.47). A.J. Puk (7-3, 4.73) gets the ball for Florida on Friday against an Auburn pitcher yet to be announced. Neither team has announced a starting pitcher for Saturday’s series finale.

It’ll either be Dane Dunning or Alex Faedo starting for the Gators on Saturday, but O’Sullivan and his staff want to get another look at the Tigers before making a decision.

“We didn’t play them last year, so we don’t know a whole lot about them,” O’Sullivan said. “Maybe we’ll get a feel for Auburn after Thursday and Friday then see who’s going to be the best matchup on Saturday.”

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