The #1-seeded Florida Gators (41-15) can punch their ticket into Saturday’s semifinals of the SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Alabama if they can knock off Mississippi State (36-22) today in a 12 noon game.
The Gators earned their way into this quarterfinal game by pulling out a 5-4 win over Auburn in the early morning hours Thursday. Mississippi State, a 12-0 winner over Georgia on Tuesday, came from behind to beat Arkansas, 4-3, Thursday afternoon. The loser of the Florida-Mississippi State game will have to play Arkansas Friday afternoon in an elimination game while the winner will play in the semifinals Saturday. The championship game is set for Sunday at 2 p.m.
In the win over Auburn, Florida blew a 4-0 lead in the seventh inning but rallied in the eighth to load the bases with one out. Christian Hicks drew a 3-1 walk that scored JJ Schwarz with the game winner. Michael Byrne pitched a scoreless ninth to get his school-record 14th save.
Against Mississippi State, the Gators are expected to start righty Brady Singer (7-3, 2.67 ERA).
GATORS SELF DESTRUCT IN FIRST GAME OF SUPER REGIONAL
The ball never left the infield in the top of the fifth inning of Florida’s opening game of the NCAA Super Regional with Alabama at Katie Seashole Presley Stadium Thursday night. It didn’t have to.
A walk, a fielder’s choice and consecutive throwing errors on bunts by starting pitcher Kelly Barnhill led to three unearned Alabama runs, which is more than Alexis Osorio needed to shut down the Gators, 3-0. Osorio gave up only three hits and was helped by flawless defense to give the Crimson Tide a 1-0 lead in this best-of-three series that will send the winner to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series.
Florida had its chances but couldn’t put anything across on Osorio. The Gators had two on with two out in the bottom of the first but couldn’t get the run-scoring hit they needed. In the second, UF had two on with one out but Justine McLean was called out on strikes and Aleshia Ocasio was picked off second to end the threat. Nicole Dewitt lined into a double play in the third and in the fifth, after falling behind 3-0, the Gators loaded the bases with two out but Janell Wheaton hit a fly ball to left field for the third out.
It’s do or die for Florida when the Gators and Crimson Tide play tonight (7 p.m., ESPN). Win and the Gators force a game three on Saturday. Lose and the season is over with Alabama advancing to Oklahoma City. Florida is expected to go with senior lefty Delanie Gourley (20-4, 0.71).
THE BEST OFFENSIVE LINEMEN IN UF HISTORY
Larry Gagner (G): Gagner was the original strong man, a weight room warrior before most teams had serious weight lifting regimens. He was first team All-SEC in 1964-65 and a first team All-American in 1965. A second round draft pick of the Pittsburg Steelers, he also played with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Bill Carr (C): For three years he snapped the ball for Steve Orr Spurrier. He was first team All-SEC and first team All-America in 1966. He went on to become Florida’s athletic director at the tender age of 33, succeeding Ray Graves.
Guy Dennis (G): Dennis was a two time first team All-SEC guard in 1967-68 and a first team All-American in 1968. A fifth-round draft pick out of UF, Dennis spent 10 years as an NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions.
Burton Lawless (G): Florida’s best offensive lineman of the Doug Dickey era, Lawless, started three years and made second team All-SEC twice (1973-74) yet was a first team All-America selection in 1974. Lawless was a starter in the Super Bowl as a rookie with the Dallas Cowboys in 1975. His seven-year pro career ended with a farming accident when his tractor rolled over on top of him.
Lomas Brown (T): Arguably the greatest offensive lineman in Florida football history, he made 34 consecutive starts at left tackle for the Gators. He was second team All-SEC in 1983 but made first team All-SEC and first team All-America in 1984 when he also won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as part of The Great Wall. The sixth pick in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, Lomas played in 263 games with 251 starts. He was a first team All-Pro three times and a second teamer four times, earning a Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2002.
Phil Bromley (C): The smallest member of The Great Wall (only 250 pounds) in 1984, Bromley was the guy who made all the right line calls and rarely missed an assignment for one of the greatest offensive lines in SEC history. A four-year starter at center, Bromley made first team All-SEC in 1983-84 and was a second team All-America pick in 1984. Bromley has been the video coordinator for the Michigan football program for 28 years.
Crawford Ker (T): A 145-pound sophomore at Dunedin High School, Ker discovered the weight room and grew to 225 pounds as a senior. Rather than sign a small college scholarship, he went the juco route, added 50 pounds and earned juco All-America honors at Arizona Western. He came to Florida in 1983 and played right tackle on The Great Wall, making second team All-SEC in 1984. A third round pick of the Dallas Cowboys, Ker was a starter at both left and right guard from 1986-1990. When Tom Landry retired, he signed with the Denver Broncos and played one year.
Jeff Zimmerman (G): Another member of The Great Wall. Coming out of Orlando Evans, Zimmerman was the top high school offensive lineman in the country. He started as a true freshman in 1983, playing right guard three seasons before playing right tackle as a senior in 1986. Zimmerman was a first team All-SEC and first team All-American in 1985-86. Drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round in 1987, Zimmerman spent three injury-plagued seasons with the Cowboys before he retired.
David Williams (T): Coming out of Lakeland High School, he was a USA Today All-American and one of the top high school linemen in the country. At Florida Williams started every game of his four-year career starting in 1985. He was selected second team All-SEC in 1987 and first team in 1988. He was a second team All-American in 1987-88. Chosen in the 1989 draft by the Houston Oilers, Williams spent nine years in the NFL, starting 106 of the 128 games he played in.
Jason Odom (T): A starter from the time he arrived at UF in 1982, Odom is the only Gator and one of only 11 players all-time to win the Jacobs Blocking Trophy twice. Odom was a second team All-SEC selection in 1993 and a first teamer in in 1994-95. He was second team All-American in 1994 and first team in 1995. Odom was a fourth round choice of the Tampa Bay Bucs and a starter in 41 of 46 NFL games before retiring because of chronic back injuries
Jeff Mitchell (C): After taking a redshirt in 1992 and playing as a backup in 1993, Mitchell started the next three years at center. He was selected first team All-SEC in 1995-96 and third team All-American in 1996 when the Gators won their first national championship. He was an academic All-SEC from 1993-96. Mitchell spent nine years in the NFL, starting in 118 of the 119 games he played in and earning a Super Bowl ring with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000.
Kenyatta Walker (T): After a redshirt season in 1997, Walker started three straight years for the Gators, earning second team All-SEC in 1999, first team All-SEC in 2000 and second team All-American in 2000 when he won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy. Skipping his senior year to go pro, Walker was taken first round by the Tampa Bay Bucs where he started 73 of 75 games, winning a Super Bowl ring in 2001 as the starting right tackle.
Mike Pearson (T): Pearson started 33 games for the Gators after his redshirt season in 1998. He was a first team All-SEC pick in 2000-01, a second team All-American in 2000 and a first teamer in 2001. He was two-time academic All-SEC. Taken in the second round by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Pearson started 31 consecutive games before a string of injuries ended his NFL career. He played a couple of seasons in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts before he retired from football in 2008.
The Pouncey Twins: One of the great recruiting coups of all time was when the Gators landed Mike and Maurkice Pouncey out of Lakeland. The twins were committed to Florida State, but they de-committed in January of 2006 and committed to Urban Meyer and the Gators in the summer of 2006. They early enrolled in 2007 and were part of a recruiting class that included seven Lakeland Dreadnaughts. Maurkice started at right guard as a freshman in 2007 then started at center in 2008-09. He was first team All-SEC in 2009, a year in which he was the consensus first team All-America center and winner of the Rimington Trophy as the top center in the nation. Picked in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, e has made the Pro Bowl five times. Mike was a backup guard as a freshman in 2007 until midseason when he shifted over to nose tackle due to a lack of depth on the defensive line. In 2008-09 he was a starter at right guard where he made second team All-SEC in 2008, first team in 2009 and second team All-American in 2009. He started at center in 2010 after Maurkice left early for the NFL. A first round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins, Mike has made the Pro Bowl three times as a center.
GATORS WILL PLAY SOUTH ALABAMA IN 2020
The Gators have added South Alabama to their 2020 schedule, taking on the Sun Belt Conference’s Jaguars on September 19.
Also, game time for Florida’s 2017 season opener with Michigan at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas has been announced for 3:30 p.m. on ABC.
SOME SEC BASKETBALL NEWS
The Gators will host Baylor on January 27, 2018 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Other games are Oklahoma at Alabama, Georgia at Kansas State, Texas Tech at South Carolina, TCU at Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State at Arkansas, Kentucky at West Virginia, Ole Miss at Texas, Tennessee at Iowa State and Texas A&M at Kansas.
Florida has offered 2018 point guard Jaelin Llewellyn (6-2, 185, Mississauga, Canada/Lynchburg, VA Virginia Episcopal). Llewellyn averaged 18.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game last season. Among his offers are Ohio State, Virginia, Penn State, Purdue, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.
Hamidou Diallo has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to school at Kentucky. Diallo, who early enrolled in January and took a redshirt, was projected late first round, early second. Diallo’s return likely means Pitt grad transfer Cameron Johnson will not sign with Kentucky.
The Missouri roster continues to evolve. Jakoby Kent (6-9, 215), who took a redshirt as a freshman last season, has elected to transfer. He’s from Utah so he’s probably headed closer to home.
Braxton Key (6-8, 240), Alabama’s leading scorer last season at 12.0 per game, has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return for his sophomore season. Key was projected second round to undrafted.
With a scholarship open due to the transfer of Brachen Hazen, Arkansas got a verbal commitment from Gabriel Osabuohien (6-8, 220, Toronto, Ontario/Little Rock, AR Southwest Christian Academy).
As expected Yante Maten has elected to return to Georgia for his senior season. Maten was not invited to the NBA Combine and was projected to go undrafted.
In Gary Parrish’s All-Too-Early Top 25 (Plus One) for 2017-18 at CBSSports.com, Kentucky is #5 with Florida at #10 and Alabama at #10.
ESPN.com, on the other hand, lists Kentucky as #4 in its all-too-early top 25 with Florida at #8 and Missouri at #25.
FLORIDA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL RECRUITING CLASS
Mikayla Hayes (6-2 freshman from Brooklyn Park, MN)
Paulina Hersler (6-3 graduate transfer from UCLA)
Tameria Johnson (5-6 freshman from Ocala West Port)
Jalaysha Thomas (6-2 freshman from Ocala West Port)
Zada Williams (6-2 transfer from Miami, will sit 2017-18)
GATORS IN LINDY’S SEC POSITION RATINGS
Quarterback: 13 (1. Alabama, 2. Mississippi State, 3. Arkansas)
Running Backs: 8 (1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. Auburn)
Receivers: 1 (2. Alabama, 3. Missouri, 4. South Carolina)
Offensive line: 10 (1. Alabama, 2. LSU, 3. Tennessee)
Defensive line: 3 (1. Alabama, 2 Georgia, 4. Auburn)
Linebackers: 7 (1. Georgia, 2. Kentucky, 3. Alabama)
Secondary: 2. (1. Alabama, 3. Georgia, 4. LSU)
Special teams: 1 (2. Texas A&M, 3. Tennessee, 4. Auburn)
GATORS IN ATHLON SEC POSITION RANKINGS
Quarterback: 13 (1. Alabama, 2. Auburn, 3. Arkansas)
Running Backs: 10 (1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. Auburn)
Receivers: 1 (2. South Carolina, 3. Alabama, 4. Ole Miss)
Offensive line: 8 (1. Alabama, 2. Auburn, 3. LSU)
Defensive line: 4 (1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. LSU)
Linebackers: 6 (1. Georgia, 2. Alabama, 3. Auburn)
Secondary: 3 (1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 4. LSU)
The Boston Celtics own the #1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. They invited UCLA’s Lonzo Ball to come work out but Ball’s people (probably LaVar) declined. It is being reported by ESPN that Ball will “consider” working out for the Philadelphia 76ers, who own the third overall pick. If I’m Boston GM Danny Ainge or the GM at Philly, I’ll pass on Lonzo. Lonzo is a talented guy, no question about that, but if you get Lonzo you also get his dad, LaVar, who I think is certifiable.
When Mark Hawkins isn’t catching passes, he’s busy doing trivial things like earning a master’s degree from Colombia with a 4.0 GPA. Showing just how smart he is, Hawkins will be catching passes from Tom Brady at New England next year rather than laboring in Cleveland.
The Cleveland Cadavers and the Golden State Warriors will begin their best-of-seven series for the NBA championship on June 1. I’m debating whether or not to watch.
Colin Kaepernick would like to sign with the Seattle Seahawks after a visit to Seattle that didn’t include a workout. No word if the Seahawks would like to sign Kaepernick as Russell Wilson’s backup.
North Carolina did the smart thing and extended Larry Fedora’s contract through the 2022 season and gave him a raise to $2.7 million.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Who would you rate as the top five offensive linemen in Florida football history?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
I found this very recent (April 21) concert by the Trey Anastasio Band at the Sweetwater 420 Fest in Atlanta. He hasn’t come out with a new album since “Paper Wheels” but it’s being suggested that he’s working on new music now.