Kan Li / Scout

Gators hosting nation's top ranked Texas A&M Aggies

Complacency. It’s the ugly truth in life that can wipe out success when it was right in your grasp. Every year the ’72 Dolphins break out the bottle when the last undefeated NFL team is eliminated. It’s why Miami’s accomplishment is so significant.

Since 1990, Georgia football fans will tell you that’s why they’ve lost so many Eastern Division titles to Florida.   

Perhaps, there is no greater example on the University of Florida campus than Tim Tebow’s “promise”, which is engraved in a plaque. Tebow shouldered the blame. He even apologized and promised that the 2008 Gators wouldn’t suffer through it again.    

Florida head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan saw the complacency and addressed it in previous subpar performances. Sometimes it just has to strike and it did just that last weekend in Lexington.

“I think this is the best thing that could have happened to us,” O’Sullivan said. “Although it’s painful, I think we all need to be put in check a little bit, myself, all of the coaches, all of the players, we all kind of needed to be put back in check. I’m not trying to overstate it, because it’s two games, but this has kind of been going on for awhile, even though we’ve been winning.”

Will the Wildcats series win over Florida serve as the catalyst that lifts the Gators to the next level?

Timing with regards to the schedule are on the Gators side with a 3-2 mid-week win over arch-rival Florida State and an opportunity to knock off #1 Texas A&M this weekend in Gainesville.

 

#1 Texas A&M at #3 Florida

Friday  7pm

Freshman RHP Tyler Ivey (2-0, 1.97)

Junior RHP Logan Shore (5-0, 2.89)

Saturday   7:30pm

Senior RHP Kyle Simonds (5-0, 2.83)

Soph. RHP Alex Faedo (5-0, 2.70)

Sunday  2pm

TBA

Junior LHP A.J. Puk (1-2, 3.49)

 

One of the things to look for this weekend is an increased emphasis on small ball. This series features two talented pitching staffs with depth and I would be shocked if you didn’t see a significant increase in guys squaring up in the box.

Florida desperately needs some help in the 3-5 slots. Sophomore J.J. Schwarz, junior Pete Alonso, and freshman Deacon Liput have to get going offensively. The trio is a combined 6 for 52 (.115) dating back to the Florida Atlantic game. 

Schwarz made a beautiful tag on FSU left fielder Jackson Lueck on the relay from Jeremy Vasquez to Dalton Guthrie to Schwarz on the play at the plate in the top of the 4th inning. However, Schwarz went 0-4 at the plate. He is just 2 for 19 in the Gators last five games. Alonso is just 1 for his last 17, while Liput is 3 for 16 over that period.

Nelson Maldonado is red hot. His average has risen to .262 after a 5 for 11 series against the Wildcats.

Keep an eye on senior outfielder J.B. Moss for Texas A&M. Moss is hitting .410 with a team-high 24 RBI’s. Senior Hunter Melton can play first or third base and swings a power bat too. He is currently hitting .326 with 12 extra base hits.

The Aggies lead the SEC with a .335 average, .508 slugging percentage, and rank third in on-base percentage at .414.

 

Teams

Batting Avg.

HR

Slugging %

BB

On Base %

K

Texas A&M

.335

23

.508

110

.414

153

Florida

.291

25

.463

119

.382

140

 

O’Sullivan has moved Alex Faedo into the Saturday night role and A.J. Puk back to Sunday. Sometimes just an adjustment here or there makes a hug difference. Right now, Faedo gives Florida their best opportunity to stake a two-game lead. He has been terrific.

It was good to see freshmen Jackson Kowar and Brady Singer pitch well against Florida State. Shaun Anderson had a bounce-back day too after struggling in Lexington. The Gators will definitely need left-hander Kirby Snead and right-hander Dane Dunning at the top of their game too. 

Texas A&M ranks 3rd in the nation with five shutouts. Freshman RHP Tyler Ivey will get the start vs Shore on Friday night. Ivey looks like former UF pitcher Hudson Randall- all ginger. His fastball is low-to-mid 90’s with a very good breaking ball.

Their Sunday starter Jace Vines will not pitch on Sunday due to illness. Sophomore RHP Brigham Hill (3-0, 1.31) may very well be the guys the Aggies roll out on Sunday. He has three starts this season for A&M. 

They have a very talented bullpen with junior RHP Mark Ecker (2-1, 0.79), sophomore RHP Turner Larkins (1-0, 0.84), and closer Ryan Hendrix (0-0, 2.03), who has notched five saves.  

 

Teams

ERA

WHIP

Opp. BA

K/BB

K’s

BB

Texas A&M

2.63

1.12

.222

3.51

239

68

Florida

2.75

1.02

.208

4.52

294

65

 

Did you Know: #1 Texas A&M is the highest ranked opponent the Gators have hosted in Gainesville for a three-game series since they defeated then #2 Miami in February 2005.

Defensively, both squads mirror each other. The Gators check-in with a .982 fielding percentage, best in the SEC. Texas A&M is third at .979. The Aggies have only turned eight double-plays this season, which is last in the conference.

 

Mark McLeod has covered Florida baseball (and football) since 1996. He is a co-host on “Sports Time!’ heard weekday afternoons from 4-6pm on Florida Sports Talk/NBC Sports- FM 100.1, AM 900, & AM 1230 (Gainesville/Ocala). Listen at FloridaSportsTalk.fm. Follow Mark on twitter @McLeodLive


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