Starting pitching: If Florida can get starting pitching like it did over the weekend, the Gators are going to make a deep run this postseason. Florida starters Logan Shore, A.J. Puk and Alex Faedo went 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA. The trio gave up just nine hits and three walks to go with one run and 16 strikeouts. Shore was in control but was pulled after only five innings to work to make sure he was available on Monday if a final game needed to be played. It didn’t, and he got some extra rest before likely getting the ball in game one of this weekend’s Super Regional.
Shore has been his dominant self in recent weeks. Puk has been great in four of his last five outings. The bright spot this weekend was Faedo. After four rocky starts, he restored the staff’s confidence in him by allowing one run in six innings in the Gainesville Regional final.
The offense: Florida scored 29 runs in three games, carrying over its momentum from the SEC Tournament to the plate. The Gators hit .325 over the weekend with 11 doubles and three home runs. That came on a strange weather weekend at McKethan Stadium. In recent years, the wind has blown out late in the season and turned the stadium into a hitter’s dream. This weekend, the wind blew in all weekend and kept multiple balls in the park.
The difference in the Florida lineup this year and some of the others under O’Sullivan is the bottom of the order. The Gators are a scary lineup 1-9 now. Back when Preston Tucker and Mike Zunino were in the middle of the order, the bottom third of the order still had lesser hitters like Cody Dent. There are no automatic outs in the Florida lineup this year.
Winning in different ways: The Gators won Friday against an overmatched Florida A&M team by pounding out single-after-single and keeping the line moving. On Saturday against South Florida, the Gators had four doubles and a pair of two-run homers. On Sunday, it was a 2-1 pitcher’s duel the Gators won to advance. The team saw what it was like to play in all types of games over the weekend, and that can only help them going forward.
Attendance: There wasn’t much bad that happened on the field for Florida. In the stands, it was a different story. The 2,053 listed attendance for Sunday’s game was easily the lowest for any Regional final of the Kevin O’Sullivan era. For Saturday night’s winner’s bracket game between Florida and USF, the listed attendance was 3,305, the second lowest under O’Sullivan for a Saturday winner’s bracket game.
Attendance shouldn’t be a problem for this weekend’s Super Regional against Florida State, but this weekend’s numbers were head scratching considering the program’s success.
Guthrie’s offense: If you’re trying to find something negative on the field, you have to nitpick. Dalton Guthrie did struggle at the plate, going 2-11 on the weekend. However, he is battling a wrist injury suffered on a swing during the SEC Tournament semifinal. As long as the wrist is structurally sound, and the MRI last week proved that it is, he needs to be in the lineup. His defense at second base solidifies the infield and allows Josh Tobias to stay at third base, where he has made one error all season.
It is probably smart to temper expectations for Guthrie’s offense until the wrist is fully healthy, though. One of his hits was a two-run single, but his injured hand came off the bat after contact. He’s a tough freshman that will be on the field because of what he means to the team.