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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Gators travel to Arkansas for final series of regular season

No. 9 Florida prepares for the No. 1 Razorbacks

<p>Florida&#x27;s Kendrick Calilao stands in the batter&#x27;s box against Jacksonville on March 14. The Gators fell to the No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers 6-4 Sunday afternoon</p>

Florida's Kendrick Calilao stands in the batter's box against Jacksonville on March 14. The Gators fell to the No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers 6-4 Sunday afternoon

Time to hit the road once again.

The No. 9 Florida Gators will hop off the team bus in Fayetteville, Arkansas Thursday afternoon for a heavyweight matchup with the No. 1 Razorbacks. The three-game series will be the final regular-season meeting for both squads who look to gain momentum going into the SEC Championship tournament.

Florida’s top pitchers, Tommy Mace (5-0) and Hunter Barco (9-2) return to the mound once again to follow last weekend’s effort of 18 combined strikeouts in a series victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. Right-hander Franco Aleman (1-3) will also return to close the series Saturday in hopes to redeem his last outing.

Top-ranked Arkansas rolls out two pitchers who carry a fused record of 6-1 this season. Left-handed Patrick Wicklander (4-1) will toss the first pitch of the series on Thursday night before redshirt junior Caleb Bolden will battle Barco on Friday afternoon.

Power hitter Jud Fabian takes a swing at matching his performance from day two against UGA when the sophomore outfielder scored his fourth two-homer game of the year. Fabian takes his first at-bat with a .267 batting average and a team-best 20 home runs and .634 slugging percentage.

First baseman Kendrick Calilao fused an instant spark in the batting order since being added to the starting list less than two weeks ago. The sophomore has gone 10 of 18 in his at-bats since May 7, including three home runs and seven RBIs. 

Outfielder Christian Franklin brings the hottest stick of the Razorback starters with 54 hits this season and a massive .584 slugging percentage. 

The three-game series serves as a final grapple for position ahead of the conference tournament. Arkansas, 19-8 in conference, held the SEC in the palm of their hand most of the season and appear in prime position to take the No. 1 seed into the tournament. The Gators sit in a tie for fourth at 17-10 in conference but just a game behind second, so they have plenty on the line with one weekend to go.

The first pitch from Fayetteville will be delivered Thursday at 7 p.m. to kick off the regular-season finale.  Watch the action live on SEC Network all series long. 

Contact Jesse Richardson at jrichardson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352

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