UF looks for SEC closure
Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 9:14 p.m.
Whether he opens on the hill or enters in relief, Johnny Magliozzi has become used to the kind of uncertainty Florida faces at Georgia for its final SEC series of the regular season.
Who: Florida (28-25, 13-14 SEC) at Georgia (19-31, 5-19)
When: Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.
Radio: 103.7 FM
Coming off losses in two of three games at home to Auburn, their second straight conference series loss, the Gators (28-25, 13-14 SEC) are in position at 7 tonight against the Bulldogs (19-31, 5-19) to either improve their postseason profile or continue to cripple it with a third weekend of failure.
One of the few sureties surrounding Florida's road trip will be the need to take a game-by-game approach with Magliozzi and the rest of UF's pitching staff.
“If we get in the situation where we need to close (Magliozzi) on Thursday, we'll use him in that role,” Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “Obviously, if we get in a must-win situation and he hasn't thrown, we'll probably start him as well.”
Magliozzi, who owns a team-high 11 saves and 2.18 ERA, received his second start of the season last Saturday in the Gators' 5-4 win against the Tigers — their lone win of the series. The sophomore right-hander lasted seven innings before allowing his third run on a solo homer from Auburn's leadoff hitter.
Florida was able to avoid consecutive SEC sweeps with a three-run blast by sophomore Josh Tobias in the ninth inning. In their previous weekend series, the Gators dropped three straight to No. 3 LSU on the road.
“We didn't really show up all three games,” Magliozzi said. “We could have got swept, but Josh made a good hit right there and really saved us. Hopefully it probably saved the season, and we can win this weekend and get into a regional.”
Aside from tonight's starter, Jonathon Crawford (3-6), who will have opened on the mound in six of 10 SEC series this season, the Gators have rarely relied on the same starting arms from week-to-week. O'Sullivan said sophomore lefty Bobby Poyner (3-2) will start Friday at 7 p.m., while the pitcher for Saturday's series finale at 2 p.m. has yet to be determined.
Despite the team's recent struggles, Florida can still improve its seeding for next week's SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., and also solidify its standing for a potential NCAA regionals berth with multiple wins against the Bulldogs.
Georgia, which sits at the bottom of the Eastern Division standings, has claimed just one of its nine SEC series matchups this season, including last weekend's three-game sweep by South Carolina.
“We've battled,” O'Sullivan said. “It's been well-documented. We've had some tough stretches. Obviously, the first half of the year didn't go as well as we wanted, but we battled and put ourselves in the position to control our own destiny.”