Florida baseball is facing elimination from the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday after getting mercy-ruled by Texas A&M Thursday. Third-seeded Arkansas will be the Gators’ opponent with a scheduled pitch time of 10:30 a.m. EDT, according to the team’s social media.
It’s a tough draw for the Gators considering many expected Alabama to lose to Arkansas. Instead of facing an easy bounce-back game against the Crimson Tide, Florida is staring down the No. 13 team in the country and the No. 3 team in the conference.
The good news is that the Gators know they can beat the Razorbacks. Florida took two of three games during the regular season to claim the series, and that came in the middle of a tough stretch for the club. UF did have trouble hitting Arky’s No. 1, Connor Noland, though, and that’s likely who will be on the mound with elimination on the line.
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In the end, it might not matter who pitches for the Razorbacks considering the Gators only manage one hit against a starter who came into the game with a 6.10 ERA. Jac Caglianone’s single in the second was the only Florida hit of the ballgame, and everyone but Wyatt Langford looked uncomfortable at the plate.
Then, there’s the pitching problem. Brandon Neely had his breakout start against Arkansas back in April as Florida looked for its No. 3 starter. He earned that spot as a true freshman but is now relied on as the No. 2 behind Brandon Sproatwith Hunter Barco out for the year. Nick Pogue has had ups and downs in the starting rotation, but he’s not the guy you want out there in a must-win game.
It’s a bad situation all around Florida, but the only way out is to play through it, so that is what they’ll have to do. Hopefully, Kevin O’Sullivan can come up with the pep talk of the century to draw the Gators out of their funk.
Projected Starting Lineup
NOTES: No projected starters have been announced yet, but Arkansas should have ace Connor Noland available, and Florida will likely turn to Nick Pogue who has been in the No. 3 slot of the starting rotation lately.
Gators Wire will provide updates as information becomes available.
NOTES: Most of Florida’s winning against Arkansas has come at home and the Razorbacks have won five of eight games in Hoover since 2005.
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Florida should’ve been no-hit on Thursday and there’s just nothing that warrants the hometown pick this time around. Gator Nation is praying for a complete turnaround, but it’s a lot to put on Pogue’s shoulders.
That being said… If the Gators manage the upset, expect Jud Fabian to be involved. He’s due.
Prediction: Florida wins, 7-6
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