No. 2 Gators Face Top Pitching @ Ole Miss

The Gator baseball team, fresh off a sweep in their SEC season–opening series with Mississippi State hit the road for three games at Ole Miss. The Rebels are 17-5 on the year and took two of three from Kentucky last weekend.

The key to Ole Miss is that the Rebels have the best one-two punch of starting pitchers with Drew Pomeranz (3-0, 1.23) and Aaron Barrett (5-0, 1.69). Pomeranz is one of the top pitchers in the country and a projected number one draft pick in June. In 29-1/3 innings he has struck out 49 opposing hitters. Barrett is less dominant, but still very good. He has won each of his starts this season and has a three-to-one strikeout/walk ratio.

Of course the Gators head into the weekend with a ton of momentum. Florida has won six straight, including that sweep of Mississippi State. Florida is 17-3 on the campaign and has won 10 of 11. The Gators are up to No. 2 in this week's Baseball America rankings.

Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said it's important that his young team moves on emotionally from its recent success and focuses on the task at hand. Ole Miss took two of three from the Gators in Gainesville last season.

"That's one thing that we've been talking with the players that we have to go on the road to Ole Miss and Pomeranz is as good as it gets at this level. We'll have our hands full with him Friday night, but for us to get where we want to be we have to beat people like that along the way. We'll give it our best shot. They're a very good club. They're playing very well and we'll see what happens."

The Gators have had one road trip this season and did well, taking two of three from the Miami Hurricanes. O'Sullivan said that experience could be helpful in Oxford, Mississippi this weekend. He also says his players will have to bring the same focus and intensity to every SEC series.

"I like the idea that we're going to be challenged because every weekend provides a new challenge. One week you have to control the running game. The next week you have to deal with power arms like Pomeranz and Barrett. Another weekend we'll face a powerful lineup like Alabama. So every weekend presents different challenges but this weekend will be a really big one for us as far as our hitters against their hitters."

The Florida/Ole Miss series starts Friday night at 7:30 (Eastern) with Saturday's game at 7:00 and Sunday at 2:00. The final two games of the series will televised by CSS so check your listings.

Florida is expected to go with the same three man rotation they used last weekend. That would send sophomore Alex Panteliodis (5-0, 1.52) to the hill Friday. Brian Johnson (1-1, 4.29) should get the call on Saturday followed by Hudson Randall (2-0, 3.80).

Florida is led offensively by a trio of hitters. Preston Tucker (.382, 4, 20), Matt den Dekker (.369, 3, 16) and Austin Maddox (.369, 6, 27) are off to outstanding starts. Florida also relies on freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana who has played errorless ball for 20 games while hitting .343 and producing an on-base percentage of .482. Josh Adams (.270, 4, 17) had been struggling, but went 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBI in a Wednesday night win over Florida Gulf Coast.

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