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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Gators host Samford in second weekend series

Florida will try and win first weekend series after it swept North Florida

<p>Hunter Barco, a 19-year-old UF business administration freshman, pitches in an exhibition game against Georgia. He threw one inning and struck out three batters against the Bulldogs.</p>

Hunter Barco, a 19-year-old UF business administration freshman, pitches in an exhibition game against Georgia. He threw one inning and struck out three batters against the Bulldogs.

One week after they dropped the first series in the history of Florida Ballpark, the Gators will look to keep the form they found in a midweek sweep of North Florida when they host the Samford Bulldogs.

The three-game series will play from Friday to Sunday, with Friday’s first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. 

Florida’s starters for the weekend have yet to be announced, but last weekend’s rotation of Tommy Mace, Jack Leftwich and Hunter Barco will likely maintain its order on the mound. 

Both Mace and Leftwich pitched five innings against the Hurricanes. Mace shined in an opening night win with only one earned run and three hits while striking out eight. Leftwich earned two runs himself on five hits, with no decision in Saturday’s loss

Barco struggled more than his weekend counterparts last Sunday. In just 3.1 innings on the mound, he allowed eight runs across the plate, six of them earned. His outing included six hits, three walks and a pair of hit batters as the Gators couldn’t overcome the early deficit

On the offensive side of the ball, star center fielder Jud Fabian, a top-10 prospect for the 2021 MLB Draft, hopes to carry the momentum of two Wednesday home runs after a slow start to the year. 

Left fielder Jacob Young, whose 23-game hit streak spans 636 days, will look to tie Jonathan India’s record for the longest hit streak under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan Friday. He would have the chance to break the record Saturday. 

The offense will look to ride its heater to begin the season, as the team scored at least six runs and recorded double-digit hits in all five games to start 2021. The Gators are batting at a .312 with a slugging percentage of .465 as a unit. 

Samford will come to Gainesville off a midweek 11-9 loss to Alabama State Tuesday — the Bulldogs first loss of the season after an opening sweep of UT Martin

Samford’s sophomore first baseman Sonny DiChiara is off to an incredible start, batting .364 and slugging 1.000 with a double and a pair of home runs in just four games. 

Samford is set to throw junior lefty Samuel Strickland and right-handed seniors Jesse McCord and Zach Hester, according to their weekend preview release. Strickand had the best first start of the three after he tossed five scoreless innings to open 2021 and retired six batters via strikeout while allowing just five hits. 

Florida and Samford have met four times before, and the Gators hold the all-time series 3-1. Last time the teams met in 2012, they split two games with the Gators victorious in March before losing in May

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Ryan Haley

Ryan Haley is a second-year journalism major with a sports & media specialization from Jacksonville, Florida. He grew up playing a bunch of different sports before settling on golf, following Rory McIlroy and all Philadelphia sports teams. He also loves all things fiction, reading, watching shows and movies and talking about whatever current story or character is in his head.

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