Gators prepare for Hurricanes again

After getting shut out on Monday night, Florida heads into an elimination game on Wednesday against a familiar opponent.

The good news for the Gators is that they’ve been in a similar spot before.

Florida dropped its opener of the SEC Tournament on a walk-off home run by Arkansas, pushing the Gators into the losers’ bracket. Florida played four straight elimination games and won all four, finishing it with a win over Vanderbilt in the tournament finals.

The opener against Arkansas on May 20 was also the last time the Gators lost before Monday’s 1-0 defeat by Virginia.

“We’ll have to work our way through the losers’ bracket,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We’ve done it before. We won four straight in the SEC Tournament and have plenty of pitching to get through it. Hopefully we’ll get ourselves back to have another chance to face Virginia on Friday.”

The key that gives Florida hope to bounce back is its pitching depth. The Gators will have only two pitchers off limits on Wednesday starting pitchers -- A.J. Puk and Logan Shore. Reliever Taylor Lewis threw 21 pitches on Monday and Bobby Poyner threw 20 pitches against Virginia. With the day off on Tuesday before facing Miami at 8 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN, both should be available to face the Hurricanes.

The biggest concern for Florida is regrouping offensively. The Gators had two hits against Virginia, both coming against starting pitcher Brandon Waddell and only one made it way out of the infield. Florida came into the game with 39 runs in its previous three games against Florida State and Miami, but Waddell kept the offense off balance by spotting his pitches on both sides of the plate throughout the game.

The winner of Wednesday’s game will have to beat Virginia twice on Friday and Saturday to advance to the championship series. If the Gators are going to do it, they’ll need multiple arms on the pitching staff to step up. With Alex Faedo starting on Wednesday, the earliest Florida could bring Shore back would be on Friday.

It starts with regrouping against Miami’s powerful offense. The Hurricanes got back on track with a 4-3 win over Arkansas in an elimination game on Monday. The Gators beat Miami 15-3 on Saturday during the College World Series opening day.

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