Florida baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan knew his young team would face some bumps in the road early this season.
Consider the Gators hip-checked into the boards.
Florida had a rough middle of the week in anticipation of its series with Miami, which begins today at McKethan Stadium.
Florida lost to South Florida and UNF and scored only two runs in the two games. After a 10-hit opening night, Florida has hit only .178 in the last four games.
And the UF coach is perplexed.
“We hit in the preseason, we hit in the fall,” O’Sullivan said. “I know what I saw. And I know we’re young. I’m a little disappointed in our approach. We have a lot of work to do.”
Florida has played as many as four position players at the same time who are true freshmen this year. But O’Sullivan isn’t as worried about the young guys as he is the veterans.
“Our older guys have to hit,” O’Sullivan said. “The young guys don’t need to feel like they need to do it all by themselves.
“Our young guys need to be protected a little bit by the older guys.”
One of those older guys — second baseman Blake Reese — missed the two mid-week games after his shoulder popped out of place last Sunday. O’Sullivan said he expects Reese to play today when the two teams face off at 6:30 p.m.
Florida has had a lot of success against the Hurricanes recently, winning 12 of the last 15 and four straight series.
But Miami is off to a fast start under new coach Gino DiMare at 4-0 with 46 runs scored in the four games.
“It’s always a challenge. Every in-state team is a challenge,” O’Sullivan said. “Miami’s pitching is better than it has been in the past.”
Evan McKendry, who struck out eight in six innings on opening day, is expected to be Miami’s Friday night starter against Tyler Dyson. Dyson struggled a bit in his first game, lasting only 3 ⅓ innings and walking four.
“The whole weekend boils down to two things — getting a good start from Tyson right from the beginning,” O’Sullivan said. “And then our older guys need to hit.”
Who: Miami (4-0) vs. No. 5 Florida (3-2)
When: 6:30 p.m. Also 6:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: McKethan Stadium
Radio: AM-850, 98.1-FM
Online: SEC Network+