Florida wining two of three on the road at nationally ranked Ole Miss this weekend is far more significant than last week's sweep of the Auburn Tigers. Ole Miss came into the weekend ranked as high as No. 8 (Baseball America) and the Rebels are clearly legit contenders for the SEC title.
The weekend got off to a miserable start with the Gators blowing a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth and falling to the Rebels 5-4. Then on Saturday the Gators played virtually the same game they did on Friday. For the second game in a row Florida shot off to a 4-0 lead, had minimal success in adding to their advantage and took a two-run lead into the home half of the ninth inning. And again, Ole Miss got the first two guys on base. But this time the Gator bullpen did the job, Kyle Mullaney induced a game-ending double play grounder and the Gators had evened the series.
Then on Sunday afternoon, Florida dominated the day. Freshman righty Tommy Toledo offered up his fifth straight outstanding start, Josh Adams and Buddy Munroe each homered and drove in three runs and the Gators had a 10-2 win and took the series two games to one. The Gators have now played six road games; all against teams ranked in the top ten at game time and split those games three-to-three. Florida's other 15 games have been at home where the Gators have lost just once.
The series win at Ole Miss is more than just a good weekend against a quality SEC team. The Gators could have easily collapsed after coughing up the lead Friday night, but instead Kevin O'Sullivan's team battled back to a pair of wins that would very well make the difference between earning an NCAA invite and staying home for the third year in a row.
"Sully" has this team growing up in a hurry, learning how to pitch and compete on a daily basis and playing at a much higher level than the talent on hand would tend to indicate. To me, the best measure of coaching is to get a team to play better than the collective talent on hand. O‘Sullivan is certainly getting that job done.
The Gators are now 17-4, 5-1 in the SEC and well on their way to make the first season under their new head coach something very special.
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel
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