Baseball Weekend Recap: Missouri
Florida reminded everyone that midweek games are far from an overall indicator of where a team stands this weekend. When the Gators dropped two games in-state teams well under .500 Tuesday and Wednesday, it might have concerned the casual bystander.
Not so fast.
The No. 12 Gators are now 30-15 and 15-6 in Southeastern Conference play, leading the SEC by two games with three weekend series remaining. They cruised to a series sweep of Missouri (19-24, 6-15 SEC) and have now won eight consecutive conference games dating back to the last two games of a series win against South Carolina on the road. Florida has now won more games than it did in all of the 2013 season.
There was a little bit of everything for Florida this weekend: Dominant pitching performances by Logan Shore and Aaron Rhodes on Friday and Saturday, a 12-1 cumulative score in the first two games of the series and some extra-innings dramatics on Sunday as the Gators traded runs with the Tigers en route to an eventual 6-5 victory.
After shaky pitching early, a first on the weekend, Bobby Poyner picked up the victory in four scoreless innings of relief to seal the Sunday victory for the Gators.
"We have a lot of pitching depth, and when you get to a game like today we run some pretty good arms out there," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "I think that if we could just keep it close on the pitching side of things, offensively we will end up getting a run. I think that we have a little bit more depth than most people."
-- WHO'S HOT --
Predetermined starters: O'Sullivan got about as good of starts as a coach can hope for from his Friday and Saturday starting pitchers. Shore, a freshman, continued to work Friday nights and showed why with a 7.1-inning outing in which he struck out five and allowed one run. That turned out to be just a primer for Rhodes, who needed 102 pitches to throw a complete game one-hitter Saturday afternoon. He struck out six, walked two and allowed his only hit in the second inning.
Catcher Taylor Gushue: The man behind the plate got it done offensively and defensively all weekend. Gushue went 5 for 12 on the weekend and either scored a run or knocked in a run in each game of the series. Florida had fleeting stars throughout the weekend, but Gushue was a model of consistency in the middle of the lineup and upped his season average to .335.
Freshmen: An ongoing story of the 2014 season continues to be a group of freshmen that is ready for the spotlight. Shore's outing has already been discussed. Peter Alonso went 3 for 4 with five RBI and a home run short of the cycle in Friday night's opener. Ryan Larson watched most of that game from the dugout but came through in the clutch Sunday with a walk-off single.
-- WHO'S NOT --
Situational hitting: Sunday's game had no business going to extra innings. The Gators had runners in third in three consecutive innings before finally coming through in the 10th. Double plays - at one point this weekend, the Gators hit into nine in 16 innings - were a killer, while simple misses played a part as well.
THIS WEEK: Florida does not have any midweek games this week. The Gators travel to Alabama next weekend to take on the Crimson Tide.