Florida faces surging Vanderbilt

After escaping yesterday's first round game against LSU with a victory, the Gators face a surging Vanderbilt this afternoon at the Hoover Met stadium. Here's our analysis of the game.

Last five series:

	
Florida 			Vanderbilt 
vs Vandy 3-0			vs Florida 0-3
vs Auburn 3-0			vs Mississippi State 3-0
vs Bama 2-1			vs Tennessee 2-1
vs Ole Miss 0-3			vs LSU 1-2
vs Tennessee 1-2		at Kentucky 3-0

Florida upset third-ranked LSU 5-4 in 10 innings yesterday. The Gators (39-18) will take on Vanderbilt (40-16), upset winners over #11 Georgia in a twilight contest in Birmingham. The winner will get a much needed day off and advance to the early game on Saturday, where they are one victory from the SEC Championship Game.

Each of the lower seeds advanced in all four of today's games. The 6th seed Gators hope to break that chain tomorrow against the Commodores.

FLORIDA IN THE 2004 SEC TOURNAMENT

FLORIDA 5 LSU 4 (10) - Third baseman Jonathan Tucker ripped a triple and scored on LSU reliever Jordan Faircloth's wild pitch in the 10th inning. The Gators then handed the ball over to Darren O'Day, who shut out the Tigers in the bottom half of the inning for a 5-4 Florida victory.

Tucker went 2-4 with a triple, double and two RBI's. The Gators also benefitted from the hot bat of freshman catcher Matt LaPorta, who blasted a solo shot over left center leading off the second. Senior Ben Harrison slapped an run scoring double in the first inning to get Florida off to a good start.

The Gators also received an solid performance from shortstop Justin Tordi, who touched his friend, LSU starter Justin Meier for a double in the fourth after striking out in the second. Tordi then led off the seventh with a single, and scored on Adam Davis' sacrifice fly to center. Defensively, Tordi recorded five put outs and four assists.

Florida starter Justin Hoyman (10-1) held the Tigers in check for most of the day. He allowed nine hits and three earned runs in 7.1 innings before giving way to O'Day (8-1), who picked up the win.

Vandy Offense vs Florida Tommy Boss

The ‘Dores are the fifth best hitting club in the conference with a .306 average. Second baseman Warner Jones is the best pure hitter in the Southeastern Conference and one of the top hitters in the land. Jones finished the regular season with a .425 average. The All-American leads the league in hits and doubles, while ranking second in RBI's and total bases.

Antoan Richardson, Jones, Klosterman, and Baxter have combined for 66 stolen bases on the year. They have been picked off 13 times, for an 83.5% success rate.

Vanderbilt tagged three Georgia pitchers for ten hits and six earned runs. Jones went 2 for 5 and added a pair of RBI's. Richardson, Baxter, and catcher Jonathan Douillard each collected two hits a piece.

player avg hits slug % RBI HR BB SB/ATT
Warner Jones .425 96 .695 64 10 11 11/15
Ryan Klosterman .350 78 .543 30 5 23 13/16
Cesar Nicholas .327 62 .598 63 13 36 0/1
Mike Baxter .326 72 .416 36 2 11 12/15

The ‘Dores will face Florida's Tommy Boss. Vanderbilt had some success against Boss when they faced him earlier this year, touching him for six hits in four innings. However, they were able to score three of those six base runners.

Should Boss run into trouble, you could see relief come via Connor Falkenbach, who has had the most success against Vanderbilt. Last month, he pitched five innings of shutout baseball against the Commodores. They only hit .117 against him.

Another possibility is Bryan Ball, who fared pretty well against the ‘Dores. He scattered six hits in five innings, but only gave up one run. Ball struck out three batters.

Against the Commodores...

player T Record ERA Opp BA IP SO BB HR
Tommy Boss R N/D 6.75 .333 4.0 2 0 0
Connor Falkenbach R 1-0 0.00 .117 5.0 5 0 0
Bryan Ball R N/D 1.80 .300 5.0 3 0 1

Florida Offense vs Vandy starter Ryan Mullins

The Gators check in at the second spot in the SEC batting average race, behind LSU at .311. Florida is led by C. J. Smith and a surging Ben Harrison, who ripped two home runs in Knoxville for four RBI's. The senior took apart the Ole Miss staff the previous weekend going 6 for 13 (.462) and picking up a couple of RBI's. Big Ben picked up a key extra base hit against LSU to keep the bat hot in the tourney.

Catcher Matt LaPorta is swinging the hot bat for the Gators. He cranked a solo shot out of the Met yesterday. The freshman from Port Charlotte hit .500 in the Tennessee series and pounded three home runs and five RBI's. In the four games prior to the conference tournament, LaPorta hit .583

Justin Tordi and Jonathan Tucker led all hitters going two for four on the day. Tordi also had a solid day in the field.

player avg hits slug% RBI HR BB SB/ATT
C.J. Smith .359 80 .628 58 13 23 6/6
Ben Harrison .358 73 .642 58 16 41 7/13
Brian Jeroloman .341 46 .393 26 1 33 1/1
Jeff Corsoletti .336 74 .450 33 4 29 11/18
Adam Davis .329 72 .489 22 6 16 19/23

The Commodores will send 6'6 Ryan Mullins to the mound. The southpaw pitched eight innings and gave up only six hits. He held Florida to a pair of runs, while striking out three.

The last time the Gators faced Mullins, Adam Davis collected a pair of hits in the Gators 3-2 victory, including a single in the first inning. One of the Gators runs occurred when Mullins plunked second baseman Ryan Kennedy with the bases loaded. Ben Harrison ripped a solo home run off of the lanky lefty.

Player T Record ERA Opp BA IP SO BB HR
Ryan Mullins L N/D 2.25 .181 8 3 2 1

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