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Gator Baseball Preview: Florida Hosts Mississippi State in SEC Opening Weekend

After a dominating 20-7 midweek victory over the Florida State Seminoles, the Gators look to build upon their success against their first SEC opponent of the season.

The No. 7 Gators (14-5) host their second straight top ten team, the No. 5 Mississippi State Bulldogs (16-1), in the SEC Opening Weekend.

On the Mound

It will be a battle of the unbeaten on the mound this weekend. All six of this weekend’s starters enter into the series with undefeated records.

Florida’s Tommy Mace will open up on the mound against the Bulldogs. In last weekend’s series against Yale, Mace made his first Friday start finishing will a final stat line of (6.1 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 0 BB, 2 HBP, 3 K).

The Gators will be facing a talented red-shirt junior on the mound in Ethan Small. Small ranks fifth nationally for strikeouts with a total of 40 on the season.

  • Friday: RHP Tommy Mace (4-0, 3.55 ERA) vs. LHP Ethan Small (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
  • Saturday: RHP Jack Leftwich (4-0, 2.05 ERA) vs. RHP JT Ginn (4-0, 1.80 ERA)
  • Sunday: RHP Tyler Dyson (2-0, 3.57 ERA) vs. RHP Keegan James (2-0, 1.80 ERA)

Mace discusses the ability of the Mississippi State offense and their strength on defense.

Gators’ Offense Heating Up

The Gators seem to have found their footing at the plate. Florida currently ranks first in the SEC in both runs (158) and hits (195).

Freshman Kendrick Calilao has been a huge presence at the plate for the Gators. Calilao is batting at a .379 average, including 25 RBI and two grand slams.

Additionally, freshmen Jacob Young and Jud Fabian have become huge assets for the Gators’ offense. Young is batting at a .417 average including 11 RBI, while Fabian leads the team with five home runs.

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan discussed the talent within the Gators offense.

Sophomore Brady McConnell leads the Gators in both hits (28) and runs (20) on the season. McConnell’s 28 hits rank second in the SEC.

A Quick Look at Mississippi State

When looking at Mississippi State it’s hard to ignore the talent that they have on the mound. In addition to Small, the Bulldogs have two strong pitchers in Ginn and James.

The three Mississippi State pitchers have given up a combined 13 runs throughout 64 innings. Furthermore, the Bulldogs have been equally impressive at the plate.

Senior Jake Mangum reached the 300-hit mark in the Bulldog’s last match-up. Mangum leads the Bulldogs with 20 runs and 26 hits this season.

With Florida on a hot offensive streak, it will be interesting to see how they match-up against Mississippi State’s talent on the mound. 

How to Watch

You can catch coverage of the series on the SEC Network or at WRUF 98.1 FM/850 AM. The opening pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, followed by a 2:00 p.m. opening pitch on Saturday and Sunday.

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