The Condron Family Ballpark at Alfred A. McKethan Field. [Caleb Ross/WRUF]

Gator Baseball Hosts South Carolina For 3-game series

The No. 24 Gators baseball team (17-15, 6-6 SEC) will host the South Carolina Gamecocks (23-10, 6-6 SEC) in a three-game series at Condron Family Ballpark this weekend.

Florida has claimed five-straight regular-season series against the Gamecocks in Gainesville dating back to 2013.

The teams last met at the 2023 NCAA Gainesville Super Regional where Florida won two games to secure the program’s eighth College World Series appearance under coach Kevin O’Sullivan.

South Carolina coach Mark Kingston acknowledged the Gators’ star power as they get ready to face off at 6:30 p.m. today:

Last Time Out

The Gators are in the midst of a four-game losing skid. They defeated Florida A&M in a midweek contest April 2, but fell short at Missouri in three one-run matchups. On Tuesday night, Florida State dominated 19-4 against the Gators. It was the Seminoles’ first series win over Florida since 2000.

Junior Jac Caglianone leads Florida with a .397 batting average and recorded his 17th home run Tuesday. On the mound, Caglianone is 3-0 with a 3.67 ERA and 44 strikeouts. Following behind his strong lead is junior Ty Evans hitting .339 with 24 RBI and sophomore Colby Shelton with 15 home runs and 32 RBI.

UF’s Brandon Neely will start on the mound today and Caglianone on Sunday. O’Sullivan has not made a final decision for Saturday’s matchup.

Freshman right-hander pitcher Luke McNeillie leads the Gators with a 1.32 ERA across seven appearances. He has fanned 20 batters against five walks and recorded a team-best .196 batting average. In terms of fielding percentage, the Gators are the SEC’s second-best defensive team and eighth in the NCAA.

With pitching and batting challenges, Florida seeks an at home redemption victory.

Friday’s Matchup

The Gamecocks enter this weekend series fresh off a 2-1 win over No. 13 North Carolina on April 9 in Charlotte. After a two-week drought, South Carolina bounced back and its pitching staff shined. On the mound, the Gamecocks held UNC to six hits and have worked to a 4.27 ERA and 326 strikeouts in 282 2/3 innings.

South Carolina’s lone SEC series win this season was a home sweep against Vanderbilt. They have lost five straight SEC road series. Kingston said this season has been a challenge and their schedule never seems to relent. The Gamecocks have faced challenges with situational hitting and runners in scoring position.

Defensively, Kingston said he feels they play solid defense and they lead the conference with double play turns.

Junior Kennedy Jones was in the transfer portal before landing with the Gamecocks. Coach said he struggled in the inter squad in both fall and spring and was not a starter to open this season.

For this SEC matchup, Kingston said the ball has to bounce the right way and strikes must be thrown on the mound. Whoever plays better baseball will win the game. The outcome will be critical for both teams’ standings and momentum moving forward.

Game 1 is set for 6:30 p.m. today at Condron Family Ballpark. Media coverage will be on the SEC Network+, ESPN 98.1-FM/850-AM WRUF.

About Hailey Hurst

Hailey Hurst is a second-year journalism major with a sports media focus. She is aspiring for a career in sports media writing/production. Contact her at hurst.haileyj@gmail.com

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