Top 10 teams meet in Gainesville this weekend, as the seventh ranked Vanderbilt Commodores (36-13) sail into town to play the top ranked Florida Gators (41-8). in the next to last SEC series of the regular season.
Florida enters the weekend tied for first place in the SEC with a 16-7 record, the same record as South Carolina. The Gamecocks are hosting a very good Texas A&M team this weekend that still thinks it can win the SEC title as well. Vanderbilt is 14-10 in league play.
Vanderbilt, coached by Tim Corbin, has one of the best pitching staffs in the SEC, led by Friday starter Jordan Sheffield who is 7-3 with a 2.09 earned run average. However, Florida’s Friday starter, Logan Shore, has been even better, going 9-0 with a 2.32 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 73.2 innings. On Saturday, the Commodores face AJ Puk (2-3) a junior lefty with a 3.04 ERA with 71 strikeouts on the season in 50.1 innings; he’ll be opposed by Kyle Wright who is 6-3 with a 1.89 earned run average. On Sunday, the Commodores face sophomore Alex Faedo (9-1) with who has 91 strikeouts this season in 66.2 innings. Vanderbilt is yet to name a starter for Sunday.
As good as Florida’s pitching is, its defense is just as good. The Gators field .986, the second best mark in the nation, and defense is a high priority for this team and it preaches defense according to sophomore Dalton Guthrie. Runs could be at a premium in this series.
While Vanderbilt boasts the best team earned run average in SEC games at 2.92, the Commodores are tied for last in SEC games in hitting at just .241; their overall team batting average is .275. Jeren Kendall hits .349 with eight home runs and Bryan Reynolds leads the team in long balls with 10 home runs.
Offensively for Florida, junior first baseman Pete Alonso leads them in the triple crown categories with nine homers, 47 runs batted in and a .354 average.
Florida will face Vanderbilt Friday at 7 pm, Saturday at 4 pm and Sunday at 1 pm.