BASEBALL: UK Vs. UF Series Analysis

One year ago, the Gators proved to be unruly visitors for John Cohen, who had just left Gainesville for his first major college head coaching stint as the new Kentucky skipper. No, they didn't pick-up bad habits from Willie Williams. They simply manhandled their hosts from Lexington.

Cohen's former boss and players scorched his Wildcats for 33 runs and three Southeastern Conference Eastern Division victories over the long weekend. The Gators turned The Blue Grass State, Florida blue.

The Gators have the hot hand yet again this year, picking up four wins over Top 25 teams in their last five outings. The Gators (20-7, 3-3 SEC East) also share the Eastern Division lead, while the Wildcats have stumbled to an 0-5 start.

Both schools used their mid-week game to take on hated state rivals. Florida traveled to the reservation in Tallahassee to play Florida State, while the 'Cats hit the road to challenge Louisville. The seventh-ranked Gators beat seventeenth-ranked Florida State 9-2. Florida pounded out twelve hits and used superior pitching to keep the Seminoles (27-6) bats silent. The Gators left only five men on base as well.

Meanwhile, Kentucky belted out 17 hits of their own en route to a 12-11 win over the Cardinals. The victory marked the Wildcats second consecutive win. It could well have been the 'Cats third consecutive win, however after leading 11-10 after eight, they gift wrapped Georgia the victory courtesy of a two out error in Saturday's wild 14-11 game.

Coach Cohen scheduled additional preparation as Kentucky beat Georgetown 6-4 on Tuesday night. Solid pitching actually keyed the Wildcats win in this one.

Kentucky

Obviously, Cohen is in the building process in Lexington. He simply doesn't have the core group of players necessary to win many ball games. It's going to take at least another two years of solid recruiting to get the 'Cats Eastern Division competitive and we're not even talking about the divisional crown. It also difficult to build a program that really has little or no history to stand upon.

I do think the Wildcats hired the right man in Cohen. He did a tremendous job at Florida and knows what it takes to build a competitive SEC program. And while the Kentucky/Ohio area is not devoid of talent, Cohen made many contacts throughout The Sunshine State which should benefit the program.

Pitching

The Kentucky pitching staff seems to take Bruce Springsteen's "One Step, Two Steps Back" song to heart. Inconsistency is battering this staff. One strikeout is recorded followed by a walk, a hit, a ground out, and another walk. The freshmen have to grow up in a hurry.

The Wildcats signed seven pitchers last season, many of whom you'll see this weekend. They'll sign several more next year in hopes of building a staff capable of stopping the flood of runs given up.

Starters

RHP Scott Green, 6-7, 220 (1-1, 4.15 ERA, .330 Opp BA): The freshman held Georgia scoreless through four last weekend before surrendering four runs, three earned in the top of the fifth. He walked three and struck out a pair of Bulldogs. He held Alabama to three earned runs on six hits pitching five innings the opening week of the conference slate. Not a bad performance by a freshman on the road.

RHP Kalen Gibson, 6-2, 190 (4-1, 3.10 ERA, .252 Opp BA): The junior righthander picked up the Friday night loss against the Gators one year ago. Gibson gave up four earned runs and walked four in 4.2 innings as Florida took an 8-4 victory over the 'Cats. Corsaletti homered for Florida while Adam Davis, Justin Tordi, and Brian LeClerc all doubled off of Gibson. Gibson had a strong performance in Tuesday's win over Georgetown (KY), allowing no runs and five hits in four innings. He was largely ineffective by the Crimson Tide a week earlier. Gibson gave up six walks and two earned runs in five innings.

LHP Andrew Albers, 6-1, 175 (3-1, 2.88 ERA, .184 Opp BA): Typical freshman inconsistency describes Albers. The lefty was hammered by Georgia on Saturday. He didn't even make it out of the beyond the second inning. Albers gave up seven hits and eight earned runs, while walking two. On week earlier, he handcuffed Alabama. Through 6.2 innings Albers allowed only one earned run on four hits. He allowed four walks while striking out five Crimson Tide batters.

Bullpen

RHP Brock Baber, 6-3, 200 (0-0): Baber is off to a great start this week. He effectively closed out the Cardinals on Wednesday. The freshman pitched 1.2 shutout innings giving up only one hit, while notching his third save of the season. One night earlier, Baber pitched four shutout innings to close out the game, striking out six along the way.

LHP Aaron Tennyson, 6-4, 190 (3-1): Tennyson didn't look good versus the Gators in '04. He pitched two innings, giving up three earned runs on four hits. LeClerc and Brian Jeroloman singled against Tennyson. The lefty also threw two innings of relief against Louisville. He too wasn't especially sharp. Tennyson gave up three hits and two earned runs. It was Tennyson however who cooled the Georgia onslaught on Saturday. Trailing 8-0, Tennyson entered the contest with no outs in the third. He retired the side and pitched five total innings giving up just two hits and one run as Kentucky battled back to take tie things up.

LHP Craig Snipp, 6-1, 200 (1-1): The junior southpaw picked up his third loss of the season against Florida a year ago. Snipp pitched 5.2 innings giving up nine hits and five earned runs in the Sunday contest. Tordi and Matt LaPorta (twice) singled for the Gators. Snipp pitched two innings in relief on Wednesday and despite picking up the win, he didn't look sharp. The junior gave up four earned runs on four hits.

RHP Alex Jordan, 6-5, 185 (0-2): Jordan got the start in Wednesday's game against Louisville. He didn't fare all that well giving up six hits and five earned runs in just 3.1 innings. It's doubtful that you'll see this freshman this weekend, unless the Gators go nuts offensively.

LHP Adam Revelette, 6-3, 200 (1-2): The lefty was the unfortunate pitcher of record in that Saturday disaster against the Bulldogs. He couldn't find the zone and helped give the game to the Bulldogs. Revelette gave up two hits, but walked three as Georgia scored four unearned runs in the top of the ninth to beat rally over Kentucky. He pitched two innings giving up just one earned run against Alabama.


Record

IP

ERA

Opp BA

BB

SO

2B

HR

Florida

20-7

246.0

3.07

.259

56

195

39

14

Kentucky

13-9

191.0

3.77

.264

85

122

18

15

* Updated stats for Kentucky were not available at press time

Offensive

Florida starter Bryan Ball was very effective versus the 'Cats last season. Ball secured his fifth win of the year against Kentucky. He allowed just one earned run on eight hits in 5.2 innings of work. Tommy Boss also pitched well against the 'Cats. The Boss Man threw 5.2 innings allowing just three hits and one earned run. Connor Falkenbach pitched 3.1 scoreless innings in relief of Boss. He allowed just four hits.

Kentucky may be waking up offensively. The 'Cats pounded out 16 hits against Georgia last Saturday, followed by 17 against Louisville. That's 15% of their hits in just two games, two recent games.

Right fielder Billy Grace leads the 'Cats with a .347 batting average. Grace had appeared in every Kentucky game except for the past three games against Georgia, Georgetown (KY) and Louisville. He picked up two hits in the Sunday game against the Gators last year.

Right fielder Shaun Lehmann enters the contest with a .329 average. He istied for the team lead with three home runs. Lehmann was 2-6 against Louisville. He was 3-3 versus Georgetown with a home run on Tuesday night. He is second with 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts.

Second baseman John Shelby is currently hitting .322 with three home runs. He also boasts a .506 slugging percentage. He went 3-4 with three RBI's, including a home run against Louisville. Shelby also leads the team with 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts.

Michael Bertram is hitting .321. The third baseman is second on the squad with 17 RBI's. He also has a .450 on base percentage. Bertram was 1 for 11 last year against Florida pitching.


Avg.

2B

3B

HR

Slug%

BB

SO

OB%

Florida

.300

46

2

30

.452

148

186

.416

Kentucky

.298

49

6

22

.441

122

176

.412

Fielding

This is not a sound team in the field. Florida may merely need to put the ball into play to make something happen. The Cats have committed 55 errors in just 22 games. Three errors cost the Wildcats their first SEC win of the season Saturday against Georgia

Third baseman Shaun Lehmann has committed 13 errors, while center fielder John Shelby has committed 12 miscues. Shortstop Ryan Wilkes has committed five errors. First baseman Michael Bertram has also committed five errors. .


Chances

Errors

Fielding %

DP’s

SBA

CSB

Florida

1105

41

.963

25

17

20

Kentucky

904

55

.939

22

16

9

Base running

Kentucky is not a team that can afford to take many chances on the basepaths. The Wildcats have stolen 37 bases in 44 attempts. Shelby and Lehmann have accounted for 23 (62%) of those stolen bases themselves.

Coaching

Second year Coach John Cohen will need some time to get the 'Cats program up and running. The Big Blue faithful will simply have to give him time and support. He has been around successful programs as a player and coach.

A former player under the legendary Ron Polk at Mississippi State, Cohen played on four NCAA Regional teams including a trip to the College World Series. At State, he was fortunate to be surrounded by several outstanding players. Cohen left as one of the most successful players in Bulldog history.

Most recently, Cohen served as hitting coach at Florida (2002-03) under Coach Pat McMahon. The 2002 Gators led the nation in hits, and ranked second in batting average, runs scored, and home runs. Florida led the SEC in five offensive categories in 2003. Both of those Florida teams qualified for the NCAA Regionals.

Kentucky's top assistant coach, Gary Henderson, was the Florida pitching coach and recruiting coordinator from 1995-98. While with the Gators, Henderson was named the 1996 assistant coach of the year by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.

Intangibles

Overconfidence. Florida's senior leadership and coaching will have to guard against it. The Gators have a tremendous opportunity to sit alone in first place after this weekend with Vanderbilt (Ole Miss) and Tennessee (Mississippi State) each taking on the Monsters of the Magnolia State. Will they take care of business though?


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