Florida Gators baseball (21-12) hits the road this weekend for a series against Vanderbilt (23-9) starting Friday night at 7. The series marks the first time the two teams have met at Hawkins Field since 2019.
Florida has been trending in this series recently, winning five of the last six series. Their last time out, the Gators lost 5-0 to rival Florida State in Tallahassee. Before that, though, the Gators won two of three against No. 2 Arkansas in Gainesville.
— Florida Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) April 14, 2022
In their last SEC action, the Commodores dropped two of three games against Auburn. Despite opening the season ranked No. 3 in D1Baseball’s preseason rankings, the Commodores now find themselves unranked. Like the Gators, Vanderbilt has faced their fair share of SEC struggles, sporting a 5-7 conference record going into the series.
Where Vandy’s Trending
On top of losing their series in Auburn for their last SEC action, the Commodores have dropped three-straight conference series. They’ve lost seven of their last eight conference games, including series against South Carolina and No. 1 Tennessee on top of Auburn.
Vandy is sporting a .303 batting average on the season and a team ERA of 3.00. Hunter McElvain (4-2, 3.59 ERA) gets the start for Friday’s game, and he’ll be facing off against Gators ace Hunter Barco (5-2, 2.23 ERA).
In the Gators’ series win against Arkansas, freshman closer Blake Purnell shone. He pitched in all four of Florida’s games that week, going 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and a save through seven innings pitched. His performance was enough to earn SEC Co-Freshman of the Week.
He pitched 3+ innings in the Gators’ game two win against the Razorbacks to earn the save. Then, in game three he earned the win against Arkansas, holding them scoreless to end the game.
Look for him to get involved if a win hangs in the balance for the Gators this weekend.
Friday Night Duel
Despite giving up three earned runs to the Razorbacks and getting hit with his second loss of the season, Hunter Barco’s exceeded expectations this season. His 2.23 ERA ranks fourth in the SEC, and his 65 strikeouts rank third in the conference and T-24th in the country.
The lack of depth past Barco has been an issue at times for the Gators, but the ace has shown that he can consistently get the job done.
On the other side, Chris McElvain didn’t have a performance to remember in his last time out, as well. The Vandy ace gave up four earned runs to the Tigers while walking four to earn his second loss of the season. He has proven throughout the season, though, that he can go the distance and keep hitters guessing.
The two teams will kick off action Friday night at 7, with the game airing on ESPN2. Saturday’s game will air on SEC Network at 7 p.m., and the finale will air at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.