Florida Series Preview

Coming off midweek wins against local teams St. Thomas and Barry, Miami will put their undefeated record on the line against the Florida Gators on the road in Gainesville.

I don't have to tell you that this series has been a bugaboo for the Canes in recent years. The Hurricanes have lost their last seven against Florida in the regular season, including series sweeps the last two seasons.

But there is a key difference between the last two seasons and this season. The Gators aren't the national title contenders that they have been over the past two campaigns. They are talented, sure, but this is not a team that is going to roll over opponents like they have been able to in the past.

After winning two out of three in their season-opening series against Duke and winning a midweek game against UCF, Florida dropped an extra-inning midweek game to Georgia Southern and then got swept this past weekend by Florida Gulf Coast. FGCU is a talented group, but you still would never expect them to sweep the Gators.

The struggles for the Gators have started on the mound. Truthfully, the adversity started just before the season when Florida found out that they were going to be without potential staff ace Karsten Whitson for the entire season.

That left the staff ace role to Jonathan Crawford and so far, he has been decent, but not dominating. He has an ERA of an even 4.00. Batters are hitting just .100 against him, but he has allowed six free passes (3 BB, 3 HBP) in nine innings.

They have a team ERA of 4.66. That's certainly not all that bad and it's a small sample size so far, but that's a very un-Gatorlike number. They feature five pitchers with at least three appearances that have ERAs of 6.00 or higher. Of the pitchers that have started games, only Keenan Kish has an ERA lower than 4.00, but he only has 5.1 innings pitched this season.

Offensively, they are still very solid. Power-hitting lefty Zack Powers leads the way with a .398 batting average, three home runs and 11 RBI. Not to be outdone, Justin Shafer is hitting .353 and Richie Martin is hitting .342 with 13 RBI.

The problem is that they are pretty top-heavy on offense.

No other regular is hitting above .263. Most alarmingly, there are a number of players that they were expecting to take the next step and be leaders on offense that haven't done it as of yet. Vickash Ramjit is hitting .226, Josh Tobias is hitting .211, Taylor Gushue is hitting an even .200 and Cody Dent is hitting .192.

Taking all of this into consideration, there's a real chance that Miami wins this series for the first time in a while.

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