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Preview: Gators Baseball hosts FGCU for Pair of Midweek Games

The No. 6 Gators baseball team (9-4) continues its 14-game homestand when it hosts Florida Gulf Coast (8-5) for a pair of midweek games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On the Mound

The only announced starter for either team in either of the two games is Gators red-shirt junior Nick Blasucci. Blasucci, who spent his freshman year at FGCU, will take the mound for his season debut against his former team on Tuesday night.

Blasucci transferred to Tallahasee Community College for his sophomore season before sitting out last year at UF with an injury, so it’ll be his first appearance as a Gator. At TCC in 2017, he tossed a 3.17 ERA in 17 innings of work.

Gators Last Time Out

Florida is coming off a dominating sweep of Winthrop over the weekend, scoring 49 runs over the three wins. After not having scored in double figures up to then, the Gators set a season-high with 16 runs in their Friday night, 16-4 win.

That season-high didn’t even last a game, as Florida beat down Winthrop 28-5 and then 5-3 in Sunday’s doubleheader. That 28-run outing featured not one, not two, but three grand slams, tying the NCAA record for grand slams in a game.

The first grand slam came via freshman first baseman Kendrick Calilao, who’s already cemented himself in the cleanup spot, and as an integral part of the lineup. The freshman leads the team in RBI with 16 through just 13 games, and is second in batting average among those with at least 30 at-bats (.357).

Gators in the Midweek

It was a good sight for Florida, as the Gators had been struggling offensively all season leading up to last week, and so far have struggled in the midweek in general.

The Gators are just 1-3 in midweek games, with all three losses by at least three runs. Florida dropped its first two to USF (6-1 final) and UNF (7-1 final), and its most recent midweek game, last Wednesday to UCF (12-9 final). The win came at Jacksonville, a 5-4 win in 10 innings.

Part of Florida’s struggles in the midweek, and head coach Kevin O’Sullivan has touched on this, has been because of the inexperienced arms that have started on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

  • Hunter McMullen (sophomore) vs. USF
    • 2.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB; Loss
  • Christian Scott (freshman) vs. UNF
    • 2.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER; Loss
  • Justin Alintoff (sophomore) vs. Jacksonville
    • 3.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 ER, BB; No Decision
  • Ben Specht (freshman) vs. UCF
    • 3.0 IP, 5 R, 3 R, 3 ER, BB; No Decision

Surely with more experience, they’ll improve, but it’s the growing pains of giving those young arms that experience that has currently cost Florida in the middle of the week.

Quick Glance at FGCU

The Eagles come into matchup with an 8-3 record, and are coming off taking three out of four games against Siena over the weekend.

The team from Ft. Myers had an excellent weekend at the plate, driving in 44 runs, including 17 and 18 in their last two wins respectively.

Eagles Can Swing the Bat…

FGCU lineup can cause some problem’s for Florida’s young arms, as the Eagles are a veteran team that can rake. Of the nine players with at least 30 at-bats, seven are either juniors or seniors.

The Eagles rank as the third-best hitting team in the country, with a team average of .344 that only trails New Mexico State and Arizona State.

Despite being a veteran lineup, its actually freshman Joe Kinker who’s been off to the best start. Kinker ranks ninth in the country both in batting average (.500) and on-base percentage (.604).

Right behind him in terms of batting average have been seniors Eric Gonzalez (.469) and Jay Hayes (.429) as the other members of the lineup to currently hit over .400. Gonzalez ranks second in the Atlantic Sun conference for batting average.

…And They Can Pitch Too

The Eagles are no slouches on the mound either.

They have a team ERA of just 2.60, best in the ASUN conference and 22nd in the nation.

Tyler Shuck has been great out of the bullpen for FGCU. In three appearances, the sophomore has tallied 15 innings pitched with a 0.00 ERA with just one run and 13 strikeouts in those appearances.

As a staff, they do a good job of keeping the bases cleared, with opponents batting just .155 against them and a low .300 on base percentage.

Game Info

Both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games at McKethan Stadium are set for 6 p.m.

 

About Jonathan Acosta

Native New Englander. Follow me on Twitter: @jonacosta_10

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