Freshman Jack Leftwich delivers a pitch during his collegiate debut against Siena. Photo Credit: Allison Curry / UAA Communications

Preview: No. 1 Florida Baseball Welcomes FAU for Mid-Week Matchup

The Florida Gators baseball team is off to a white-hot start after an opening weekend sweep of the Siena Saints. They’ll look to carry that momentum into Tuesday night when they host the Florida Atlantic Owls. Tuesday’s game will be the fourth game of a five-game Florida homestand.

Jack Leftwich to Start

Freshman RHP Jack Leftwich is expected to make his first start in a Gators uniform. He made his collegiate debut on Saturday. In his first appearance, he worked an inning of relief following Jackson Kowar’s seven innings of work.

Leftwich got off to a shaky start, allowing back-to-back hits. However, he settled down following a trip to the mound by captain JJ Schwarz. After the visit, he proceeded to escape danger via a strikeout and a 4-6-3 double play.

Leftwich will be matched up against sophomore righty Nick Prather. As a freshman, Prather pitched in 11 games for the Owls and accumulated a 4.86 ERA over 16.2 IP. FAU head coach John McCormack says Prather is much improved and he’s expecting big things out of him this year.

Everybody Hits, Everybody Scores

Over the weekend, Florida scored 36 runs. That’s the most in a three-game series for the Gators since they scored 38 runs in 2015 against South Carolina. The Gators saw offensive contributions from just about every hitter against Siena. Collectively, Florida hit .396.

The last time the Gators faced Florida Atlantic was in 2016 in Gainesville. They won by a score of 2-1. This year, if Florida maintains the level of offense they displayed over the weekend, it’s safe to say Leftwich and the rest of the pitching staff will have more run support this time around.

FAU Keys to Success

The Owls, like the Gators, swept their season-opening series. They won their three games against George Washington by a combined score of 12-3. They’re looking to build upon a little momentum of their own. They won the final game of their series on Sunday in walk-off fashion via a two-run single from junior Diamond Johnson. He raked in a team-high 4 RBIs in the series.

If they’re to have success against the Gators, FAU needs to find their rhythm at the plate. In the three games against George Washington, they hit just .207 as a team. They were bailed out by great pitching. George Washington hit .187 against the Owls arms.

One bright spot offensively for FAU was sophomore Eric Rivera. Last season he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team and he’s hitting a team-high .444 here in early 2018.

ESPN 98.1 FM & 850 AM WRUF will have coverage of the game beginning at 5:55 p.m.

About Ryan McGinn

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