BASEBALL: Gators vs. Vanderbilt Preview

After suffering through a horrible weekend in Columbia, South Carolina where they were outscored 31-10 and dropped from a first place tie to three games back of the lead, the Florida baseball team will try to turn their Eastern Division fortunes around against first place Vanderbilt.

The Commodores (17-8) played a relatively weak pre-conference schedule and could only muster an 11-6 record. The 'Dores jump started their Southeastern Conference fortunes taking two out of three on the road against Ole Miss before sweeping the Auburn Tigers at home. Western Kentucky defeated the Commodores 6-4 at home Tuesday night.

 

When they last met

The Gators clinched the Eastern Division and overall Southeastern Conference regular season championship with a three game season ending sweep of the Commodores in Nashville. Florida won the games 5-4, 2-1 (13), and 6-3.

Two years ago, Florida swept Vanderbilt in the regular season. However, the Commodores secured a bit of revenge as they eliminated the Gators in a pair of contests in the Southeastern Conference Tourney in Birmingham.

National Rankings

Vanderbilt (NR Baseball America, 17th- Collegiate Baseball, NR- USA Today/Coaches Poll)

Florida (15th Baseball America, NR- Collegiate Baseball, 20th- USA Today/Coaches Poll)

Pitching

Vanderbilt will toss Collegiate Baseball Magazine's National Pitcher of the Week David Price on Friday night. Price leads the Southeastern Conference in strikeouts and has the second best opponent batting average of any pitcher in the league. That does not bode well for a Florida team that is hitting a porous .259 and is searching for offensive leaders.  

Price dropped a 2-1 decision in 13 innings to the Gators last season. He had certainly pitched well enough to win the game. The southpaw hurled seven innings in which he allowed only two hits and two walks, while striking out 11 Florida batters. Both of the Gators hits (Jeff Corsaletti and Brian Jeroloman) came in the first inning.

Bryan Ball was Price's counterpart in that game last season- just as he will on Friday night. Ball limited the Commodores to four hits and one earned run in 7.2 innings. He fanned five before eventually giving way to Stephen Porter and Daren O'Day, who pitched five strong shutout innings in relief for the Gators win.   

Throw

Pitcher

Class

Record

ERA

OppBA

IP

K

BB

Friday

LHP

David Price

So.

3-2

2.11

.157

42.2

65

13

RHP

Bryan Ball

Jr.

4-3

3.76

.265

40.2

31

14

Saturday

RHP

Matt Buschmann

Sr.

3-2

3.48

.250

41.1

40

13

RHP

Bryan Augenstein

So.

5-2

2.26

.218

55.2

53

4

Sunday

LHP

Cody Crowell

So.

3-0

1.85

.204

39.0

23

7

N/A

Saturday starter Matt Buschmann pitched against the Gators in relief last season. Buschmann threw four innings and allowed four hits and one earned run, while striking out three. Brian Leclerc and Matt LaPorta doubled off of Buschmann in that contest. Adam Davis hit a single and later scored.  Buschmann is also among the SEC leaders in hit batsmen, which Florida has already had 47 this season.

Florida has received superb pitching from Bryan Augenstein, who suffered his toughest outing last weekend against fifth ranked South Carolina. Augenstein hasn't gotten much in the way of run support run support against Arkansas or Carolina.

Left hander Cody Crowell has been outstanding for Vanderbilt this season. Crowell is among the top ten in the league in opponent batting average and earned run average.

The problem for Florida has been finding a consistent third starter. J.K. LaCoste and Chas Spottswood have struggled recently. Coach Pat McMahon will have to find a starter for this Sunday. None were named at press time.

Offensive

Vanderbilt has but one starter hitting over .300 this season- first baseman Ryan Flaherty. Leadoff hitter David Macias is has the 'Dores second best average at .298. Clean-up hitter Brian Hernandez is currently the Commodores third leading hitter.  Shortstop Dominic de la Osa has stolen six bases in eight attempts to lead Vandy on the basepaths.

Florida needs a few leaders to step up this weekend offensively. This is not the aggressive, put the ball into play team that was expected. Of course, when they have put the bat to the ball- it seemingly has found difficulty finding the hole.   

Defensive

The Commodores have committed 35 errors this season for a .963 fielding percentage. Third baseman Pedro Alvarez and first baseman Ryan Flaherty lead Vanderbilt with nine errors apiece. Shortstop Dominic de la Osa has committed seven miscues.

The Gators will hit the road with a .957 fielding percentage. Shortstop Adam Davis has committed ten errors in 156 chances. Third basemen David Cash (8) and Brandon McArthur (6) must shore up the hot corner.

First pitch by Bryan Ball is scheduled for 6:30pm at McKethan Stadium on Friday night. The Saturday game has been moved to 2pm Saturday, so that it doesn't conflict with the Final Four.

School

SEC Record

Games Back

Overall

Winning Pct.

South Carolina

5-1

-

23-3

.885

Vanderbilt

5-1

-

17-8

.680

Kentucky

4-2

1.0

21-5

.806

Georgia

3-3

2.0

18-6

.750

Florida

2-4

3.0

18-11

.621

Tennessee

1-4

3.5

17-8

.680

Alabama

5-1

-

20-8

.714

Miss State

4-1

0.5

21-1

.955

Arkansas

2-4

3.0

21-5

.808

LSU

2-4

3.0

20-7

.741

Auburn

1-5

4.0

12-16

.429

Ole Miss

1-5

4.0

14-11

.560


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