Gators look to bounce back after three-game losing streak

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Florida's Tommy Mace (4-2) got the loss Friday vs. Vandy. [Cyndi Chambers/Gainesville Sun Correspondent/File]

GFlorida enters a key baseball series at McKethan Stadium this weekend with its pitching staff struggling.

Although it did win the first game last week at LSU, UF gave up nine, 13 and 11 runs, respectively, good for an average of 11 runs against per contest. LSU reached base 43 times as its lineup dominated Florida’s pitching staff. The Gators’ ERA ballooned to 6.45 following the weekend.

“It’s unfortunate that we haven’t figured out yet to throw the ball across the plate,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It’s part of the process of learning to get better. I wish we could speed it up, that it would happen quicker. We just need a couple guys to step up on the weekend.”

The woes continued Tuesday in a 13-11 loss to Florida Atlantic, who took advantage of 11 walks and two hit batters.

The Gators (26-17, 7-11 SEC) will try to get back in the win column starting today against Kentucky (21-20, 4-14 , starting at 6:30 today (SEC Network+), 6 p.m. Saturday (SEC Network) and 12 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2).

Florida will go with righty Tommy Mace (7-3, 4.24 ERA) on the mound today, while UK goes with right-hander Jimmy Ramsey (2-3, 6.59 ERA).


SERIES HISTORY | Overall: Florida leads, 140-68-1. In Gainesville: Florida leads, 75-28. Notable: Under O’Sullivan, Florida is 6-5 in weekend series against Kentucky, including a 3-2 record in series in Gainesville. Florida has not swept Kentucky since 2005; the Wildcats have not swept the Gators since 1993.

Success Against the Cats: Wil Dalton and Nelson Maldonado have both had hot bats against Kentucky. Last year, Dalton went 4-for-14 (.286) with two home runs and nine RBI in three games at Kentucky.

Nelson Maldonado has played nine career games against the Cats and has a .419 average (13-31) with three doubles, three home runs and nine RBI.

Offense Leading Way: Florida’s offense has been the team’s strength all season, ranking fourth in the SEC with a .296 average. The team’s average is the second-best over the last eight years (hit .298 in 2015) and the Gators’ 7.1 runs per game is the second-best under O’Sullivan (7.6 in 2009).

Mace the Ace: Sophomore Tommy Mace has been the lone bright spot on the Gators’ pitching staff. He has pitched into the seventh inning in eight of 10 starts and has five quality starts on the season. In his career, he has a 12-3 record, a .800 win percentage that ranks him eighth in school history.

Langworthy on Fire: Junior Austin Langworthy is 26-for-64 (.406) with 16 RBI and 11 extra-base hits in his last 17 games. He started the season in a slump, hitting just .187 (17-for-91) with 11 RBI and six extra-base hits.

In addition, he has been clutch driving in runs. He has a team-high 13 two-out RBI (21 total RBI).

The Butler Did It: Sophomore Jordan Butler has emerged as an offensive force the last two weeks. He was inserted into the lineup against South Carolina and is 11-for-23 (.478) with two home runs and four RBI. He hit a walk-off three run homer against South Carolina to clinch the series in game three on Saturday.

Smith Heating Up: Sophomore catcher Brady Smith has been on a tear over the last 10 games, hitting .421 (8-for-19) with a home run and four RBI. He had a career-high four hits at LSU last Thursday night.

Acton’s Power Surge: Over the last 10 games, freshman Cory Acton has a .659 slugging percentage with eight extra-base hits (five doubles, three home runs) with a .317 batting average (13-41). In his first 33 games, Acton hit .260 with just one extra-base hit for a .270 slugging percentage.

Super Soph: SS Brady McConnell leads the offense this season with a .369 average. On the year, he leads UF with nine home runs and 19 multi-hit games. He ranks fifth in the SEC in batting average (.369) and second in total hits (59) entering the weekend.

PARKING

  • First-come, first-serve in O’Connell Center Garage
  • James G. Pressly Stadium
  • Law School
  • Frat Row, along Fraternity Drive
  • Please DO NOT park along any roads or in the grass and only use parking lots or garages.

PROMOTIONS

Friday

  • “The Avengers” Night – Come out to the Mac for “The Avengers” Night full of fun and excitement before the release of “The Avengers Endgame” movie. 
  • T-shirt Giveaway – The first 500 fans in attendance will receive a free “Avengers” themed t-shirt!
  • Photo Booth – Take a photo before the game at our “Avengers” inspired photo booth on the concourse.
  • Food Truck Friday – Local food trucks Cilantro Tacos and Mayflower Cellars will be set up along the left field line by maintenance area.
  • Pepsi Family Night – Families can purchase 4 GA tickets, 4 hotdogs and 4 sodas for only $24.
  • Gator Booster Night – All Gator Booster members with valid ID receive 2-for-1 reserved bleacher.
  • Kids Korner – Fun and games set up on the concourse for kids 12 and under!

Saturday

  • Seniors Nights—Senior citizens, ages 55 and older, can purchase 2-for-1 reserved bleacher seating
  • Military/First Responders Nights—All military members and first responders, active and retired, can purchase 2-for-1 reserved bleacher seating
  • Kids Korner – Fun and games set up on the concourse for kids 12 and under!

Sunday

Family Sundays – GA tickets, small popcorn and 10oz. sodas are only $1 each.

Community National Anthem – Prior to the game, kids 12 and under, can line the field for the National Anthem.

Kids Korner – Fun and games set up on the concourse for kids 12 and under!

Autograph Alley – Immediately following the game, Gator players will be available to sign autographs in Autograph Alley down the 3rd base line. Due to NCAA compliance regulations, athletes will only be allow to sign Florida Gators promotional materials (posters, schedule cards, magnets) and baseballs. 

Dan Apple at UF Sports Information Dept. contributed to this report.

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