Florida's Cory Acton (22) reaches to tag Florida A&M's Octavien Moyer (15) stealing second during an NCAA college baseball game Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in Gainesville, Fla. Moyer was originally called out, but the ruling was reversed. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

Gator Baseball travels to No. 6 Tennessee for SEC weekend series

The No. 12 Florida Gator baseball team (20-9, 5-4 SEC) hits the road for an SEC weekend series with the No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers (25-5, 7-2 SEC).

The Gators enter this weekend’s matchup after back-to-back midweek victories. On Tuesday night the Gators defeated Stetson 7-6 and followed up with 10-0 win over Florida A&M on Wednesday.

Pitching Matchups

Keys for the Gators

The keys to a win over a Top 10 SEC team like Tennessee will be minimizing fielding errors and finding consistency at the plate. Add in strong pitching performances from starters Tommy Mace, Jack Leftwich and Hunter Barco and the Gators have a solid shot at taking the series.

Florida has talent in the arms of Mace (4-0), Leftwich and Barco (4-2). Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan experimented on the mound last weekend against Ole Miss, putting Mace and Leftwich in to close the Friday and Saturday games respectively.

Tommy Mace during the Gators’ game against the Florida State Seminoles on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. / UAA Communications photo by Adler Garfield

However, this weekend Mace and Barco will get their typical starts. The Gators have yet to announce their Saturday starter. Closer Franco Aleman, and relievers Christian Scott, and Trey Van Der Weide will likely make appearances this weekend.

Offensively, the Gators have plenty of solid hitters. After struggling against South Carolina, they managed to find their rhythm against Ole Miss. Now halfway through the season, Florida will have to find a way to get on base in order to secure a victory over Tennessee.

Jacob Young and Nathan Hickey remain standouts at the plate. Young is batting .334 and leads the Gators in both hits (42) and runs (31). In addition, Hickey bats .369 and leads the Gators with 34 RBIs.

Lastly, Florida will have to keep the fielding errors to a minimum against a talented Tennessee team. The Gators struggled with errors in the midweek matchup but will need to play a clean game on the road against the Volunteers.

Taking a Look at Tennessee

The Volunteers have seen recent success against SEC opponents. Tennessee took the series against Georgia, LSU and Alabama. Tennessee infielder Liam Spence is batting over .400 and leads the team in hits (42) and runs (32). The senior has two home runs and 19 RBIs on the season. Additionally, the Volunteers’ Jake Rucker has been impressive at the plate; he has 29 RBIs and four home runs so far this season.

On the mound Tennessee will start Chad Dallas (4-0) on Friday night. The pitcher has allowed 31 hits and 16 runs while striking out 49 batters this season. Saturday will feature Will Heflin (2-1) on the mound and Blade Tidwell (4-1) will get the Sunday start.

How to Watch

  • Friday | 6:30 p.m. | Watch: SEC Network+ | Listen: ESPN Gainesville 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF
  • Saturday | 7:00 p.m. | Watch: SEC Network | Listen: ESPN Gainesville 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF
  • Sunday | 1:00 p.m. | Watch: SEC Network+ | Listen: ESPN Gainesville 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF

About Mady Benton

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