Game Preview: Florida faces Oklahoma in regional finals matchup

·4 min read

Florida barely made it by Central Michigan earlier in the day, and now the Gators must right the wrongs of Saturday and overcome an Oklahoma team that beat them handily in the second round of the regional tournament.

The Sooners brought the offense and overpowered Florida’s young arms to an easy 9-4 victory. Florida has shown the ability to make adjustments in the past — UF was mercy-ruled by Texas A&M in the second round of the SEC Tournament and ended up beating the Aggies in the semifinals — but Oklahoma has the benefit of resting for a full day and being up at least one starting pitcher on the Gators.

Remember, even if Florida wins this game, they have to do it again on Monday to advance to the Super Regionals. It would be UF’s first trip to that round of the national championship tournament since 2018.

It’s a daunting task, but Florida has played some of its best ball backed into a corner and there are plenty of storylines to look for. Wyatt Langford is chasing home run No. 26 to tie Matt LaPorta for the single-season record at the school. He hit two in the early game, so breaking the record is a possibility albeit unlikely.

Jud Fabian could be playing his final game with the Gators and is still looking to prove that turning down the Red Sox’s second-round offer was the right decision. Coming up big in playoff time is a good way to remind people of how valuable you are, even after a big slump.

Then there are the others who are likely moving on from the program after this season. BT Riopelle, phenomenal as he’s been, is MLB bound after transferring to Florida for a season, and Sterlin Thompson is a projected first or second-round pick. Of course, the freshmen are trying to prove themselves just as much in their first taste of big stakes college ball.

Projected Starting Lineup

C

BT Riopelle or [autotag]Mac Guscette[/autotag]

1B

[autotag]Kendrick Calilao[/autotag] or Riopelle

2B

Sterlin Thompson

3B

[autotag]Colby Halter[/autotag]

SS

[autotag]Josh Rivera[/autotag]

LF

Wyatt Langford

CF

Jud Fabian

RF

[autotag]Ty Evans[/autotag]

DH

[autotag]Jac Caglianone[/autotag]

NOTES: Riopelle played first base in game one of the day, so he could be shifted back behind the plate for the evening matchup, especially if the pitcher is used to him.

Probable Starters

Team

Pitcher

Record

ERA

OKLAHOMA

TBD

TBD

TBD

FLORIDA

TBD

TBD

TBD

NOTES: Three players auditioned for this spot during the SEC Tournament. [autotag]Anthony Ursitti[/autotag] would be the next man up if Kevin O’Sullivan decided to go with the same rotation, but he gave up six runs in 2 and 2/3 innings, making it unlikely that he’s Sunday night’s starter.

The other options are [autotag]Timmy Manning[/autotag] and [autotag]Carsten Finnvold[/autotag]. Manning went five innings of scoreless ball and struck out six against Texas A&M in the last revenge game played by the Gators, and Finnvold held his own against the best team in the nation, Tennessee. He struck out six despite giving up four unearned runs.

Gators Wire will provide updates as they become available.

Series History

OVERALL

0-1

AT HOME

0-1

AWAY

0-0

NEUTRAL

0-0

NOTES: Oklahoma’s bats came around early on Saturday in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Florida needs this section to read 1-1 after the game if they want to play a third.

Follow the Action

SUNDAY (7 p.m. EDT)

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Prediction

After seeing the bullpen explode the way it did against Central Michigan, it’s hard to have faith that the Gators have enough steam left to get it done. Kevin O’Sullivan doesn’t want the season to end, but did the players get the message? Langford’s bat is back and that could be enough to change the tide against OU this time around.

Prediction: Gators win, 3-2

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