Series Preview: No. 9 Florida wraps up season vs. No. 1 Arkansas

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The 2021 college baseball regular season comes to a close this weekend and the Florida Gators (35-16, 17-10 SEC) are set to wrap up their schedule on the road with its toughest opponent to date: the No. 1 Arkansas Razorbacks (39-10, 19-8 SEC). UF is coming off a series win against the Georgia Bulldogs last weekend — but dropped the final game — and is 7-3 in its last 10 games.

The Razorbacks have had a heck of a 2021 campaign and enter the series the top-ranked team in the nation as well as the Southeastern Conference. The Hogs started the season hot, winning their first 12 before dropping three in a row — one apiece to Louisiana Tech, Oklahoma and Alabama. Arkansas then ran off eight in a row before settling into its current pattern of winning several while dropping a loss here and there. Like Florida, UA is 7-3 in its past 10 games.

Historically, the two schools are a dead-even 32-32 against each other since the first meeting in 1979. Interestingly, the two programs also share the series-high winning streak at seven games, with Florida’s coming from 2000 to 2004 and Arkansas from 2008 to 2010. Florida has won six of the last 10 but aside from the aforementioned winning streaks, the two teams have traded wins with fair regularity.

Here is a look below at the starting pitchers lined up for this weekend’s series along with the projected starting lineup. Scroll down further for interesting excerpts from the media guide.

Game 1: Thursday (7 p.m. EDT)

Starting Pitcher Florida: RHP Tommy Mace (5-0, 4.40 ERA) Arkansas: LHP Patrick Wicklander (4-1, 1.93 ERA) WATCH: SEC NETWORK LISTEN: ESPN 98.1FM/850AM WRUF UPDATE: https://twitter.com/GatorsBB/status/1395491162111324161 RESULT: https://gatorswire.usatoday.com/2021/05/20/florida-baseball-arkansas-razorbacks-game-1-recap/

Game 2: Friday (8 p.m. EDT)

Starting Pitcher Florida: LHP Hunter Barco (9-2, 4.13 ERA) Arkansas: RHP Caleb Bolden (2-0, 4.67 ERA) WATCH: SEC NETWORK LISTEN: ESPN 98.1FM/850AM WRUF

Game 3: Saturday (3 p.m. EDT)

Starting Pitcher Florida: RHP Franco Alemán (1-3, 5.26 ERA) Arkansas: TBD WATCH: SEC NETWORK+ LISTEN: ESPN 98.1FM/850AM WRUF

Projected Starting Lineup

FLORIDA VISITS ARKANSAS

No. 9 Florida (35-16, 17-10 SEC) visits No. 1 Arkansas (39-10, 19-8 SEC) for a Thursday-Saturday series to close out the 2021 regular season slate. Florida is 14-18 overall vs. Arkansas under Kevin O'Sullivan, including 4-5 on the road. The Gators enter Tuesday having won 15 of their last 20 games including seven of their last 10. Florida is 5-2 across their previous seven SEC road games.

GATORS IN THE RANKINGS

Florida ranks inside the top four in the SEC in sacrifice flies (second; 28), doubles (third; 95), hits (fourth; 496), batting average (fourth; .283), triples (fourth; 12) and walks (fourth; 244). As a pitching staff, the Gators rank second with 16 saves, second in fewest walks al- lowed (148) and fourth in innings pitched (455.2). After recording his fourth two-homer game of the season against Georgia on May 15, OF Jud Fabian is tied for first in both the SEC and in the country with 20 home runs, be- coming just the fifth player in Florida base- ball history to hit 20 homers in one season. Fabian is also tied for fifth in the SEC in total bases (121), fifth in slugging (.634), fifth in walks (37) and tied for ninth in runs (48). OF Jacob Young is tied for sixth in the SEC with 51 runs scored (T27th nationally) while pacing the conference in plate appearanc- es (253) and at bats (217). Young is also tied for second with 15 doubles, seventh in stolen bases (13) and tied for eighth in hits (68; T31st nationally). C Nathan Hickey ranks fourth in the SEC in walks (40), tied for fourth in doubles (14), ninth in OBP (.436) and tied for 11th in RBI (47). On the mound, RHP Hunter Barco is tied for second in the SEC and third nationally with nine wins on the season while Jack Leftwich is tied for sixth with seven victories of his own. Leftwich also ranks seventh with a .193 BAA and 10th with a 3.25 ERA. Tommy Mace ranks eighth in the SEC with 93 strikeouts fourth with 75.2 innings pitched.

GOING STREAKING

INF Kirby McMullen has reached base in 23 consecutive games dating back to April 7, while OF Jacob Young currently owns an active on-base streak of 18 games. During their streaks, McMullen is slashing .289/.406/.458 while Young has batted at a .286/.367/.364 clip. Also with a five-game hitting streak, Young has driven in nine runs with a .364/.400/.455 slash line across Florida's last five. INF Cory Acton also has an active on-base streaks of 14 games.

HERE COMES THE JUD

Over Florida's last 18 games, OF Jud Fabian is slashing .344/.476/.859 with a team-high nine home runs, 17 RBI and four stolen bases. Fabian boasts a 15-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio during that time, improving his season slash line to .267/.383/.634. Fabian has homered twice on three straight Saturdays.

BARCO DAY EQUALS WINNING WAYS

LHP Hunter Barco improved to 9-2 on the season and 6-0 across his previous seven starts with a victory vs. Georgia in game two, including wins in each of his last five games started. He has not lost a start since March 28 at South Carolina.

IT ALL DA' PENS

The Gator bullpen combined for eight innings of relief without allowing an earned run last weekend vs. Georgia while striking out nine. Across Florida's last three SEC series, Gator relievers are 2-1 with a 1.96 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 23 innings.

CALI-LOUD

1B/OF Kendrick Calilao notched two hits apiece in five of Florida's last six games. Calilao leads the Gators with a .500 batting average and eight runs over that span, also sporting a .950 slugging percent- age and four homers.

UNIQUE HITTING STREAK

Sophomore Jacob Young broke Tim Olson’s 21-year-old record on Sunday, March 7, as he singled in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to a record 30 games. Young hit .415 (51-123) over the streak with 11 doubles, 18 RBI and 23 runs.

SULLY MAKES SCHOOL HISTORY

Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan passed Dave Fuller for the most wins in program history. O’Sullivan has 582 career wins and a .681 winning percentage (which ranks third among active coaches with at least 10 Division I seasons). Fuller finished his illustrious Gators head coaching career with 556 wins from 1948-75.

NEXT TIME OUT

Florida heads to Hoover, Ala. for the SEC Tournament (May 25-30).

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