Banged up No. 7 Gators in Lexington

Coach Kevin O'Sullivan will continue to operate a bit shorthanded as the Gator baseball team opens a three game series at Kentucky tonight. Florida will be without freshman outfielder Kamm Washington (.308) for the rest of the season with a torn hamstring injury that will require surgery.

The Gators are still without starting pitcher Tommy Toledo who is about to begin a throwing program as he recovers from multiple broken bones in his face. The Gators will also face the Wildcats without freshman lefty Brian Johnson (3-2, 3.47).

On the positive side Florida is expecting to get back third baseman Bryson Smith and left reliever Steven Rodriguez for the weekend set. Florida comes into the game 23-9, 8-4 in the SEC, but the Gators are just 6-6 in their last 12 games. Kentucky is 21-14, 4-8 in the SEC but the Wildcats took two of three from then No. 19 Alabama last weekend.

Friday night will send Sophomore Alex Panteliodis (6-1, 1.99) to the mound to meet up with Kentucky lefty Logan Darnell (3-2, 4.62). Panteliodis has been very consistent for the Gators, pitching at least seven innings in four of his last five starts. He must like traveling, because in his three starts away from McKethan Stadium he's is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA.

Saturday Florida will turn to Freshman Hudson Randall (3-3, 3.98) who is coming off an outstanding outing at Tennessee. Randall pitched eight innings in Knoxville and allowed just one run on four hits. He held the Vols hitless through five innings in that contest. He'll be opposed by another Wildcats lefthander in Taylor Rogers (4-3, 4.86).

Offensively the Wildcats are a power hitting club with 47 home runs in 35 games. 3B Andy Burns leads the team with nine, while Cory Farris and 1B Gunner Glad have each hit seven. Glad (.366), CF Keenan Wiley (.364) and LF Chad Wright (.373) have the top batting averages on the club.

The Gators need to get their bats going. After behing held to four runs or less just twice in the first 18 games it's happened nine times in the last 14 contests. Florida scored just two runs Tuesday night in dropping a 3-2 game to Florida State. Freshman SS Nolan Fontana has seen his average drop to .274 while going 4-for-31 in his last seven games. Two-time all-SEC performer Josh Adams is struggling at .235, which is more than a hundred points below what he hit last year. Adams is 1-16 in his last four games and is just 5-43 (.116) against SEC pitching. Freshman catcher Mike Zunino is also struggling in his first go ‘round in the league with just two hits in 35 at bats.

The road trip will be a homecoming for Gator sophomore pitcher Nick Maronde (2-0, 4.64). Maronde is a Lexington native who helped pitch Lexington Catholic High School to a state championship.


UF defeated Kentucky twice in three meetings at McKethan Stadium in the final regular-season series last May. The series win helped Florida capture its first SEC Eastern Division title since 2005. The Gators finished league play with a 19-11 record, one game behind co-champions LSU and Ole Miss.


Florida enters the weekend one game behind South Carolina (9-3) in the SEC Eastern Division race. Florida and LSU (also 8-4) are both one game back of the Gamecocks and Arkansas (also 9-3) in the race for the overall SEC Title. Florida is the only one of the four on the road this weekend.


Florida still has to play all three of the contenders. Arkansas and LSU will visit Gainesville over the next two weekends while the Gators travel to face South Carolina to end the regular season May 20-22. South Carolina plays at Arkansas May 14-16, but does not face LSU. Arkansas and LSU have already played with the Tigers winning two of three in Baton Rouge.

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