More Nashville nastiness for UF baseball team

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Florida pitcher Jack Leftwich. Chambers/Correspondent/Gainesville Sun]

NASHVILLE, TENN. — It’s officially a slump, this SEC struggle for the Florida baseball team.

On Thursday, the No. 14 Gators suffered their first shutout of the season in losing 5-0 to No. 8 Vanderbilt.

Then on Friday, the Gators were routed 15-2, as the Commodores clinched the series.

Vanderbilt (18-5, 3-2 SEC) abused Florida pitching by scoring six runs in the third inning, two in the fourth, three in the sixth, three more in the seventh and finally a single run in the eighth, all on 19 hits.

Florida (16-9, 1-4) has been outscored 38-16 in five league games. Entering the weekend, the Gators averaged 10.6 runs per game in their past 13 games. Through two games in Nashville, Florida has scored two runs on just eight hits.

“It’s obvious to me that a lot of our young players, the SEC play is a little bit quick for them right now, it’s a little bit fast for them,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “The only thing we can do is continue to work hard and play a little better tomorrow and come out of here with a win and go back home and regroup.”

The Gators look to salvage the series with a 2 p.m. game today.

UF scored its runs Friday on bases loaded walks in the seventh inning, as it only managed three hits.

Starting pitcher Jack Leftwich (4-2) had the worst outing of his college career, giving up eight runs, six of them earned, on 12 hits in 3.2 innings.

Patrick Raby (4-0) allowed one hit in six innings for Vanderbilt. He struck out seven and walked six.

Florida had its chance against Raby in the third inning, when he walked four batters, but the Gators failed to push a run across.

Vandy took charge in the bottom of the inning, notching six runs off Leftwich. Ty Duvall provided the biggest blow with a three-run double.

After Raby’s struggles in the third inning, he found his stride again and put up three more zeros before giving way to the bullpen.

“Tip your cap to Vanderbilt, they swung the bats really good and obviously we did not play as well as we needed to,” O’Sullivan said.

The Gators will start Tyler Dyson (3-0, 3.42 ERA) in an attempt to stop the slide today.