Two of the nation’s elite college baseball programs enter today’s 6 p.m. confrontation at McKethan Stadium with some things to prove.
Florida, last year’s national champion, hopes a three-game sweep of Rhode Island has put it back on track after back-to-back losses to Central Florida earlier last week knocked the Gators to No. 2 in the rankings. The Gators (15-3) open the SEC part of their schedule this weekend at South Carolina.
“The challenge is we’re going to have to play a little bit better,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said after last weekend’s home series. “We haven’t played great yet, I think up to our capabilities.
“But I think with Florida State coming up and then, obviously, traveling to start SEC play, we’re going to have to play better. And I thought this was almost like a dress rehearsal this weekend where we’re going to dial it up a little bit.”
Florida State arrives in Gainesville fresh off a doubleheader loss Saturday to Wake Forest after opening the season with 14 wins. FSU (14-2) dropped three spots in the rankings to No. 7. The Seminoles seek to return to the form they opened the season with.
The Gators have won 10 of the last 11 meetings against the Seminoles. FSU leads the all-time series 128-115-1, but the Gators lead the series in Gainesville 61-48, including 13 of the last 15. O’Sullivan is 22-16 against Florida State.
“What we have to do is strive to do what we’ve worked on,” FSU coach Mike Martin told the Tallahassee Democrat. “Not get base running mistakes and take advantage of opportunities and enjoy the opportunity to play in an environment like this.
“You can’t say that it’s just another game because it’s not.”
UF’s pitching staff is coming off its best weekend of the year, allowing just two earned runs over 27.0 innings against Rhode Island (0.67 ERA). UF allowed just two extra base hits (double, homer) and 11 total hits, limiting the Rams to a .129 batting average.
Who: No. 7 Florida State (14-2) vs. No. 2 Florida (15-3)
When: 6 p.m.
Where: McKethan Stadium
Online: SEC Network+
Probable Starters: FSU – RHP Andrew Karp (3-0, 1.56 ERA) vs. UF – LHP Jordan Butler (1-1, 2.50)