It’s been a long time coming. What may have been the longest offseason for college baseball in recent memory has now concluded. Florida Gator baseball is back. The undisputed number one ranked Gators host their first game ever in the brand new Florida Ballpark against rival Miami on Friday.
The ever-lagging offseason was not without its moments. The Gators finished at the top spot of all six preseason rankings. While some players found ways to play summer ball, others were left waiting for February 19 before they played a game. The players are ready for the long-awaited return of Gator baseball.
Junior right-handed pitcher Ben Specht alluded to the historic season the Gators were on before it was cut short last year. He, and many of his teammates, are eager to suit up Friday.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan disclosed that pitcher Nick Pogue underwent Tommy John surgery last Tuesday and will not participate this year.
The sophomore pitcher had a 5.23 ERA over 10.1 innings. He was most effective when coming out of the bullpen, posting a 0.00 ERA in five relief appearances giving up only five hits.
New stadium, new season
The lights will finally turn on at Florida Ballpark. The Orange and Blue will grace the clay for the very first time Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. They take on familiar foe in Miami. Last season, Florida swept the Hurricanes in a three-game series in Miami.
🚨 OPENING DAY UPDATE 🚨
We will be live on @SECNetwork 📺
— Florida Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) February 12, 2021
Something unique about this college season is the amount of older players in lineups. Programs that were used to seeing more freshmen and sophomores in their starting nine, now have more juniors, seniors and even graduate students. This can be attributed to the shortened MLB draft as well as the eligibility of players to return after the cancelled 2020 season.
While starting lineups have not been released, the next three games will be similar to those of last season. Potential pitchers duals and high-scoring games may take place over this weekend.