The Gator baseball team begins SEC action tonight as it hosts No. 9 Kentucky. The Wildcats are coming off of a 6-3 victory over Ohio in a mid-week matchup, while the Gators are coming off of a 4-1 loss to in-state rival Florida State on Tuesday.
The Gators have had their season struggles and Gator coach Kevin O’Sullivan has changed the pitching rotation for the weekend. Freshman right-hander Jay Carmichael will start on the mound tonight; he’ll be the first freshman to start a Friday night opener since Hudson Randall at Alabama in 2010.
Florida has also struggled at the plate and enters tonight’s game with just a .264 team batting average.
Kentucky, on the other hand, has not had to deal with many season struggles. They have a 14-2 record and are outscoring their opponents 131-50 this season. Their line-up is highlighted by sophomore A.J. Reed, who is batting .361 with five home runs and 23 RBI’s. Not only is Reed stellar at the plate; he’s Kentucky’s Friday night left-handed starting pitcher. Gator coach Kevin O’Sullivan says that Florida is prepared to face a tough competitor.
With a season record of 8-10, Florida has not yet collected a victory in a Friday night opener. However, the season is still young and O’Sullivan knows what his team needs to work on.
Starting the previous four Friday night openers this season was junior righty Jonathon Crawford, who is now on schedule to throw Saturday’s first pitch, while Sunday’s game will start with freshman Eric Hanhold.
The Wildcats will continue with their left-handers for the entire weekend. Kentucky’s Saturday starter will be senior lefty Jerad Grundy, while Sunday junior lefty Corey Littrell will toe the rubber.
All of tonight’s action can be heard on ESPN Radio 850/900 at 7:25 where Steve Russell and Jeff Cardozo will call the action. First pitch is set for 7:30.