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How to Watch: Florida baseball at Kentucky Wildcats on Thursday

Florida baseball hits the road to face the Kentucky Wildcats this weekend starting on Thursday, May 18, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky, for the opener of the final series of the 2023 regular season, and if you’re wondering how you can watch the action live, you’ve come to the right place.

The Gators got off to a strong start in non-conference play before earning a series win over the Alabama Crimson Tide at home to open SEC competition. Florida then took a single midweek game from the Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee before sweeping a doubleheader over the Ole Miss Rebels on the road, following that up with two out of three at home from the Auburn Tigers.

Florida prevailed over the visiting Bethune-Cookman Wildcats at home before taking two of three on the road against the Tennessee Volunteers. Then on Tuesday, the Gators prevailed over the Seminoles again before dropping the opener to the Georgia Bulldogs on Friday. They bounced back on Saturday, before clinching the series on Sunday. The Orange and Blue then mercy-ruled the Florida A&M Rattlers.

The Gators were then swept on the road by the South Carolina Gamecocks for their first series loss of the season buts bounced back with a win over the North Florida Ospreys during the week before sweeping the Missouri Tigers last weekend. Speaking of sweeps, UF took all three games from FSU this season on Tuesday night with a win as well.

The Orange and Blue took the opener of the series at the Texas A&M Aggies before the home team bounced back to earn the series win with two-straight victories two weekends ago. Florida swept then the Vanderbilt Commodores last weekend to ascend to its highest ranking of the season in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll.

How to Watch

THURSDAY (6:30 p.m. EDT)

Projected Starting Pitchers

Team

Pitcher

Record

ERA

FLORIDA

RHP Hurston Waldrep

6-3

5.00

KENTUCKY

RHP Travis Smith

4-2

4.81

Projected Starting Pitchers Notes

Waldrep got rained out last week, so Kevin O’Sullivan is giving him the Thursday game and keeping Sproat in the Friday slot. It’s not as weird as it may seem and there’s nothing to read into here.

The big thing with Waldrep right now is how he deals with the new delivery. Since umpires forced him to change his motion, things haven’t been the same, made evident by a rising 5.00 ERA.

This is his last chance before the playoffs to get right.

Travis Smith took over the Friday night role against South Carolina a few weeks ago. He’ll get the call against No. 2 Florida as well this weekend. His 3.62 ERA is impressive considering the competition he’s faced his age. Smith isn’t a big strikeout guy, and that could hurt him. Florida isn’t the team you want making consistent contact with the ball. — David Rosenberg

Projected Starting Lineup

Pos.

Player Name

AVG

OBP

SLG

AB

R

H

HR

RBI

C

BT Riopelle

.260

.395

.515

169

42

44

10

45

1B

Jac Caglianone

.351

.401

.817

208

58

73

27

73

2B

Cade Kurland

.317

.414

.619

189

58

60

15

44

3B

Colby Halter

.239

.352

.410

134

26

32

3

25

SS

Josh Rivera

.370

.467

.647

184

55

68

14

56

LF

Wyatt Langford

.400

.535

.813

160

61

64

14

37

CF

Michael Robertson

.256

.388

.311

164

39

42

1

19

RF

Tyler Shelnut

.318

.405

.589

107

23

34

6

23

DH

Luke Heyman

.347

.401

.619

118

22

41

8

30

Other Players to Watch

Syndication: The Tennessean

Jackson Gray and Hunter Gilliam are the two bats to worry about the most. Gray is batting .375 with 14 doubles, six triples and five home runs. He’s an extra-base machine and scores often because of it (63 runs leads the team).

Gillam is the power threat with 11 homers. His 1.028 OPS is second only to Gray’s 1.140, and his 63 runs batted in lead the team.

Kentucky likes to run, too. The Wildcats have swiped 86 bags in 112 attempts. They should run on Florida this weekend whenever possible. – Rosenberg

Series History

OVERALL

147-71-1

AT HOME

79-30

AWAY

62-38-1

NEUTRAL

6-3

NOTES: Florida has dominated the series, historically, and there’s no reason to expect anything different this weekend. This is one of the best Gators team in a while and they want to finish the regular season on top. – Rosenberg

Prediction

GAME 1: Florida, 6-4

This is the kind of series that snowballs if Florida wins Game 1. After sweeping Vanderbilt, you have to assume this club comes out and plays just as well against Kentucky.

SERIESFlorida sweeps and finishes on top of the SEC, 3-0. Rosenberg

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire