After the Florida bullpen imploded on Tuesday night against the Stetson Hatters, the Gators baseball team returns home to Gainesville to take on a familiar face — the Georgia Bulldogs.
The weight of the world can’t be placed on the shoulders of the pitching crew. If the Gators want to overcome their old foe in a three-game series, they also need to pull their bats out of the ice and around the bases.
The Florida batting order took an ice bath and went a combined 4-for-30 in the upset loss to Stetson. Jacob Young put the only run on the scoreboard with an RBI single in the second inning.
Although the thermostat read a frozen temperature, preseason All-American Jud Fabian preserved a small flame when he drew a walk to reach base safely for the 23rd straight game. Senior Kirby McMullen has his own 20-game streak still in-tact.
Outfielder Kendrick Calilao found his way into the starting lineup last Friday after a go-ahead home run against Kentucky, and he improved his batting average to a steady .257 while his slugging percentage shot up to .386.
After the bats went cold on the road, Florida can look forward to home-field advantage. Florida Ballpark has boosted the heavy swing of the Gators offense so far this season, as they hit .302 and smashed 42 home runs in 32 games to feed a .490 slugging percentage to go along with a 26-6 home record.
In the first meeting of the series, right-hander Tommy Mace will hurl first pitch with hopes to improve his 4.43 ERA and continue his five-game undefeated streak. Mace surrendered 1.17 walks and hits per inning pitched, fourth best on the team.
On Saturday, southpaw Hunter Barco (8-2, .426 ERA) returns to the hill after he struck out 10 Wildcats in 6.2 innings Sunday. Right-handed Franco Aleman (1-2) makes his return on Sunday to redeem his loss last week and turn around his inflating 5.17 ERA.
The Georgia Bulldogs offer two freshman lefties to start the series this weekend with Liam Sullivan (2-2, ERA) on Friday and Jaden Woods, who’s undefeated in three starts in 2021, on either Saturday or Sunday.
Mace’s first pitch is set for Friday at 6:30 p.m. from Florida Ballpark. The matchups will be broadcast on the SEC Network on Friday and Saturday’s games, but Sunday’s game will only be available on SEC Network+.
Contact Jesse Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352