After a late season slide that saw the Florida Gators baseball team sneaking in to the NCAA Tournament, the 29-28 Gators will begin their 29th tournament appearance Friday afternoon in the Bloomington Regional.
They’re joined in the regional by Indiana, Austin Peay, and Valparaiso, and it’s the Austin Peay Governors who will be in the opposite dugout Friday. Although they’re hardly a household name, Austin Peay is arguably the hottest team in college baseball; they’ve got the nation’s longest winning streak, which is at 15 games and counting. A 43-15 record and the Ohio Valley Conference Championship garnered them the number two seed in the Bloomington region.
The Gators, after losing many of last season’s veterans to the MLB, have struggled to score runs at times throughout the season. This however, isn’t a big concern for UF head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who says the Orange and Blue are just a good game away from acquiring their hitting stroke once again.
Hitting has not been any kind of an issue for Austin Peay. Led by Craig Massoni’s .388 average and 16 home runs. Another one of Austin Peay’s big boppers is Jordan Hankins, who’s got 11 big flies on the year. Austin Peay head coach Gary McClure said he’s really thankful for his middle of the lineup.
The Gators will send Jonathon Crawford to the mound Friday. Last season, Crawford showed greatness in the regional as he tossed a no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman at McKethan Stadium. He’ll look to have another dominant performance against Austin Peay. The Governors will send Zach Hall out on the the hill. Crawford was confident about the team’s ability, saying that the Gators are a team that other teams aren’t thrilled with seeing.
For the Gators, winning the regional as an underdog would give the team confidence after they lost their last regular season series to Georgia and dropped their only game in the SEC tournament to Texas A&M. The Orange and Blue will try to get back on the winning track today and you can hear the game live on Country 103-7 The Gator starting at 12:50pm.