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Series Preview: Florida and UNF set for home-and-home series

Hardly anything went right for Florida baseball over the first weekend of the 2024 season, but the Gators have a chance to right the ship this week with a home-and-home series against the North Florida Ospreys.

Florida needs to make a statement against UNF this week after losing the opener to St. John’s and seeing the rest of the weekend washed away by rain. To do so, Kevin O’Sullivan will turn to his Saturday starter, freshman Liam Peterson, on Tuesday at UNF to bring the Gators back to a .500 record.

Then, it’s back at Condron Family Ballpark on Wednesday. Here’s everything you need to know about the series.

Projected Starting Lineup: Florida Gators

Pos.

Player Name

AVG

OBP

SLG

AB

R

H

HR

RBI

C

Luke Heyman

.250

.200

.250

4

0

1

0

1

1B

Jac Caglianone

.500

.600

.500

4

0

2

0

0

2B

Cade Kurland

.200

.200

.200

5

1

1

0

1

3B

Dale Thomas

.667

.667

1.000

3

1

2

0

0

SS

Colby Shelton

.500

.500

1.500

4

1

2

1

1

LF

Tyler Shelnut

.000

.00

.000

2

1

0

0

0

CF

Michael Robertson

.500

.500

.500

4

1

2

0

1

RF

Jaylen Guy

.000

.000

.000

2

0

0

0

1

DH

Ty Evans

.000

.000

.000

0

0

0

0

0

 

Probable Starters: Friday (6 p.m. ET)

Team

Pitcher

Record

ERA

FLORIDA

RHP Liam Peterson

DNP

DNP

NORTH FLORIDA

LHP Tony Roca

1-4

7.96

NOTES: Liam Peterson will make his collegiate debut on Tuesday after his Saturday start was canceled, but he should be on a pitch count. The idea here is to keep the weekend guys fresh without sacrificing a start next weekend.

Peterson was dominant in May at the FHSAA state championships, and he’s only received rave reviews since arriving in Gainesville. Peterson has a very high ceiling with a fastball that is already reaching 97-98 mph.

Tony Roca has made 31 starts for UNF over four years, but he saw his ERA balloon to a career-high 7.96 last year as he shifted to the bullpen. He’s set to get the ball for the Ospreys on Tuesday as a starter, but there should be a short leash.

Roca came into the game as a ground ball pitcher, but Florida is all about launch angle. This could get ugly.

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

Team

Pitcher

Record

ERA

FLORIDA

TBD

TBD

TBD

NORTH FLORIDA

TBD

TBD

TBD

Neither team has announced a projected starter for Wednesday’s matchup, but Florida should go with either Luke McNeille or Frank Menendez. Because the Gators are short on left-handers, I’d expect Menendez to be saved for the weekend.

Other Players to Watch

MIKE FENDER / THE NEWS HERALD
MIKE FENDER / THE NEWS HERALD

The only Osprey who finished opening weekend batting over .500 is right fielder Cherokee Nichols. He notched four hits, including a double, and two walks through eight plate appearances. He also leads UNF in runs scored this season with three. If UNF is going to score a lot this week, Nichols will be involved.

Series History

OVERALL

19-7

AT HOME

15-4

AWAY

4-3

NEUTRAL

0-0

NOTES: Florida has won 13 of the last 14 games, including nine straight.

Follow the Action

TUEDAY (6 p.m. ET)

WEDNESDAY (6:30 p.m. ET): 

* Watch links go directly to game feed

Predictions

GAME 1: Florida, 11-1

GAME 2: Florida, 8-3

One loss isn’t going to convince anyone that Florida is anything but a powerhouse. That being said, the bottom half of the lineup struggled against St. John’s. I expect the top half of the order to jump on UNF early in both games. Florida needs these wins.

Series prediction: Back on track. Florida takes both games, 2-0.

Read more

Florida Baseball 2024 Position Preview: Outfielders

Florida Baseball 2024 Position Preview: Infielders

Florida Baseball 2024 Position Preview: Starting Pitchers

Florida Baseball 2024 Position Preview: Relief Pitchers

Dooley’s Dozen: 12 things Kevin O’Sullivan said about 2024 Gators baseball

Florida sophomore ranked No. 5 second baseman by D1Baseball

Florida star Jac Caglianone ranked second-best 1B by D1Baseball

Florida ranked No. 4 by Baseball America to start 2024

Two Gators named Preseason All-Americans by D1Baseball

Florida baseball projected to win SEC East, Caglianone Preseason POTY

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire