The Florida Gators baseball team (22-5, 4-2) will face its third straight top-10 opponent this weekend when the Vanderbilt Commodores (17-8, 5-1) roll into town. Florida is 24-12 against Vanderbilt under the leadership of head coach Kevin O’Sullivan and will be looking for its surging offense to continue to pour in runs against a solid Vanderbilt pitching staff.
Vandy Scouting Report
O’Sullivan said on Thursday that prior to the season he looked at the stretch of the schedule Florida is currently enduring and figured it would test his group. “It challenges us,” he said. “…The theme of this year is: We’re playing another ranked team.”
Florida’s red-hot offense will be confronted by a group of Vanderbilt pitchers that have been stellar to date. The Commodores have a 2.98 team ERA, which is 27th best in the nation.
Vanderbilt’s arsenal of arms is supported by a sure-handed defense that ranks second nationally with a .986 fielding percentage. They’ve committed just 13 errors in 901 total chances.
Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin likes to let his team run. The Commodores rank 11th nationally and first in the SEC with 50 stolen bases in 2018. O’Sullivan said he expects to see plenty of action on the basepaths and described this year’s Vanderbilt team as young and talented.
Offensively, Vanderbilt is well-balanced. Five players in its lineup have 14+ RBI. Their hitters are also patient. The Commodores rank 17th nationally with 138 walks.
Probable Pitching Matchups
Game 1: RHP Brady Singer (5-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. RHP Drake Fellows (4-0, 2.16 ERA)
Game 2: RHP Jackson Kowar (4-1, 3.13 ERA) vs. RHP Patrick Raby (2-3, 2.19 ERA)
Game 3: RHP Tyler Dyson (4-1, 2.10 ERA) vs. RHP Mason Hickman (5-0, 2.08 ERA)
Gators ace Brady Singer will be looking to bounce back from his first loss of the season. Last year against Vanderbilt he picked up a loss but pitched well giving up two runs over eight innings.
Saturday starter Jackson Kowar said this weekend the pitchers will play a big part in trying to limit the Commodores ability to be aggressive in the running game.
Closer Michael Byrne enters the weekend searching for the 26th save of his career which would set a new UF record. O’Sullivan said Byrne’s knack for making good pitches in big situations and his ability to get ahead in the count are a couple of the reasons why he’s been so effective.
Third baseman Jonathan India is riding a career-best 12-game hitting streak. Over the span he’s 22-for-38 with five home runs and 12 RBI. The junior said he’s now fully committed to his approach and the recent stretch of success has given him confidence at the plate.
You can listen to coverage of the Florida-Vanderbilt series all weekend long on ESPN 98.1 FM & 850 AM WRUF. Barring any weather interference, coverage of Game 1 will begin on Friday at 6:25 p.m.