Series Preview: Florida looking to pull off massive upset versus No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers

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Florida baseball and head coach Kevin O'Sullivan received a devastating blow on Wednesday when Kendall Rodgers of D1Baseball reported that ace Hunter Barco will be out indefinitely with elbow discomfort. The absence of its star pitcher will make the Gators’ attempt to pull a massive upset over the No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers much more difficult. The series kicks off Friday at 6:30 p.m. EDT at the newly named Condron Ballpark. Graham Hall of the Gainesville Sun reported that Florida Ballpark is renamed after Gary Condron, the largest donor in Gator Boosters history.

In Barco’s place, O’Sullivan announced that reliever Ryan Slater will start Friday. Then Brandon Sproat and Brandon Neely will take the mound first on Saturday and Sunday.

The Volunteers are rolling currently and have only dropped one game so far in SEC play. They enter this weekend holding an outstanding 34-3 record. Tennessee also holds the NCAA lead for most dingers with 88.

Florida’s pitching staff will need to have its best stuff if it wants to pull off the series upset.

Projected Starting Lineup

C

Mac Guscette

1B

Kendrick Calilao

2B

Colby Halter

3B

Deric Fabian

SS

Josh Rivera

LF

Wyatt Langford

CF

Jud Fabian

RF

Sterlin Thompson

DH

BT Riopelle

 

Probable Starters: Friday (6:30 p.m. EDT)

Team

Pitcher

Record

ERA

TENNESSEE

Chase Burns

6-1

2.22

FLORIDA

Ryan Slater

2-1

3.52

NOTES: Florida has a chance in most games to start the series due to the prolific Barco, but the Gators will be without him for an indefinite amount of time. Slater will have the tall task of trying to replicate his success.

Probable Starters: Saturday (6:30 p.m. EDT)

Team

Pitcher

Record

ERA

TENNESSEE

Chase Dollander

6-0

2.93

FLORIDA

Brandon Sproat

4-3

4.91

NOTES: Another tough pitching matchup for the Gators. Sproat’s ERA this season is nearing five while Dollander’s is under two. Sproat continued his seesaw-like season, struggling versus Vanderbilt last weekend and allowed six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Projected Starters: Sunday (Noon EDT)

Team

Pitcher

Record

ERA

TENNESSEE

Drew Beam

8-0

1.50

FLORIDA

Brandon Neely

1-0

4.30

NOTES: Neely is looking to get a hot streak going after only allowing three hits and one earned run versus the Commodores last Sunday.

Follow the Action

FRIDAY (6:30 p.m. EDT)

SATURDAY (6:30 p.m. EDT)

SUNDAY (Noon EDT)

Predictions

GAME 1: Tennessee, 4-2

GAME 2: Tennessee, 6-1

GAME 3: Tennessee, 8-5

SERIES: As you can tell, I don’t have any faith in Florida to grab the series or much hope that the Gators can steal a game. Tennessee has rolled through every SEC opponent so far in conference play, and I don’t expect anything different this weekend. Florida’s only chance to avoid the sweep vanished when Barco was ruled out with elbow discomfort.

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