Takeaways: Florida Gators baseball looks to make a move as postseason approaches

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 9 Florida Gators baseball (36-13, 15-9 SEC) went 3-1 in its recent four-game stretch against the Georgia Bulldogs and South Florida Bulls.

On paper, it should have been an easy sweep for the Gators, but the Bulldogs (22-25, 7-16 SEC) put up a fight until the final out. UGA shocked UF with an 11-1 upset win in the Friday’s opener. Runs were scarce in game two, but Florida managed to edge Georgia 3-2 and even the series. In Sunday’s finale, sophomore right fielder Ryan Larson hit a three-run double that lifted the Gators to a 7-4 victory for the series win. UF then topped USF 5-1 Tuesday night in Gainesville to close out the nonconference schedule.

Here are five takeaways from the past week of Florida baseball:

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Takeaways from the weekend: Florida Gators baseball drops home series to Kentucky

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 6 Florida Gators baseball (33-12, 13-8 SEC) dropped two games to the Kentucky Wildcats over the weekend, marking the first home series loss of the season for UF as well as a fall from first place in the SEC East.

Florida came up on the short end of a pitchers’ duel in Friday night’s 3-0 loss. A wild, rocky start from sophomore right-handed pitcher Dane Dunning (4-2, 4.29 ERA) put the Gators in a hole they could not overcome, even with a late rally in the 7-6 series clincher for the Wildcats on Saturday. Florida avoided the sweep with a 10-1 thumping of Kentucky in Sunday’s series finale.

Here are five takeaways from the difficult weekend:

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Takeaways: Florida baseball rebounds from FSU

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 6 Florida Gators baseball (32-10, 12-6 SEC) started their recent five-game stretch with a tough road loss but recovered to claim four straight wins and remain one of the top 10 teams in the nation.

The Florida State Seminoles walked off in the 12th inning last week with a 4-3 victory to tilt the season series in the Seminoles’ favor 2-1. Florida bounced back with a 6-3 win Friday night over the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville, Mississippi, and went on to earn a 2-1 win and 10-5 victory to sweep the weekend series. UF then returned home Tuesday and managed to defeat the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats 2-1 despite being held to only four hits.

Here are five takeaways from Florida’s resilient week:

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FOUR BITS: arrests, McGriff, Paschall, Tip-Off

1 » Florida Gators sophomore left-handed pitchers A.J. Puk and Kirby Snead were arrested Sunday night and charged with third-degree felony criminal trespass for “climbing a crane inside a marked construction site without legal authority,” according to Alachua County Jail records obtained by the Orlando Sentinel‘s Edgar Thompson. Both players remain in jail as they are still waiting to see a judge at some point Monday. Puk and Snead have both seen action with the Gators this season, the former starting seven games and currently holding a 6-3 record with 5.87 ERA for Florida. Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan announced Monday that Puk and Snead have been suspended indefinitely, according to The Gainesville Sun.

2 » The Gators signed four-star athlete D’Anfernee McGriff on National Signing Day, as a change in coaching staff and questions about his ability to qualify at Auburn came into play. As such, it was known by the Gators coaching staff that he may also struggled to qualify at Florida or at least may have to wait a bit to get on campus. According to Luke Stampini of 247 Sports ($), McGriff expects to know his status by Monday. If he is unable to qualify at UF this summer or fall, he could choose to go to prep school and enroll in January or enroll at Eastern Arizona junior college, where he has already signed as a precaution, per his high school’s recruiting coordinator.

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Takeaways: JJ Schwarz helps Florida Gators baseball bounce back to win four straight

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 10 Florida Gators (28-9, 9-6 SEC) rebounded from last week’s disappointing road trip (1-3 vs. Florida State and Missouri) by displaying an abundance of offense and sweeping its four-game homestand against the Stetson Hatters and South Carolina Gamecocks. Florida scored in every inning of its 22-2 win over Stetson on Tuesday. Gamecocks pitchers did not fare much better against the Gators as UF outscored USC 38-10 in the series (14-3, 12-5, 12-2) to notch its first SEC sweep of the season.

Here are five takeaways from Florida’s near-flawless week:

1. Binging on taters: Freshman catcher JJ Schwarz made this week one he will never forget with four home runs in five at bats on Tuesday night against Stetson. But that wasn’t enough for the rookie slugger, as he punished South Carolina pitchers for three more round-trippers over the McKethan Stadium fences during the weekend series. Schwarz is one of many college players enjoying the NCAA’s new baseball with modified seams, which was introduced this year. A recent report showed a 39 percent increase in home runs this season as of April 1. Even with the inflated numbers, it’s noteworthy that Schwarz’s seven round-trippers this week tops the six home runs hit last season by former catcher Taylor Gushue to lead the Gators.

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JJ Schwarz sets Florida Gators program record with four home runs in a single game

Just 34 games into his collegiate career, freshman catcher JJ Schwarz on Tuesday accomplished something no player in the 101-year history of Florida Gators baseball had before when he smacked four home runs in a single game against the Stetson Hatters.

Schwarz, who entered Tuesday’s contest batting .277 with five homers and 30 RBI on the season, jettisoned the ball out of the park in each of his first three at bats. In his fifth turn at the plate, he rocketed a fourth ball over the McKethan Stadium wall, becoming the first Florida baseball player – and second Southeastern Conference player (Bill Sandry, Kentucky, 1982) – to crush four home runs in one game.

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Takeaways: Florida baseball struggles on road

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 5 Florida Gators baseball (24-9, 6-6 SEC) has gone 3-4 in its last seven games since OnlyGators.com was last able to check in following its win over Stetson on March 24. UF posted a flat 3-3 split in its last two conference series with the Alabama Crimson Tide and Missouri Tigers, book-ending a tough 8-3 loss to the Florida State Seminoles in Jacksonville on Tuesday.

In the Alabama series opener, a back-and-forth game swung in the Tide’s favor with a three-run 10th inning that pushed them ahead 12-9. The Gators evened the series with an 8-1 win in the second game of a doubleheader, and they used a late rally to win game three 7-4, claiming the series. Eight walks against Florida State allowed FSU to even the season series. While Florida looked to bounce back with a 5-1 win against Mizzou, UF was outscored 15-4 over the final two contests to drop the series.

Here are five takeaways from the last seven games:

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Takeaways: Florida baseball bookends losses at Ole Miss with wins over Florida State, Stetson

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 5 Florida Gators baseball (21-5, 3-3 SEC) bookended the last week with high notes but ran into some trouble in the middle games, going 3-2 against the Florida State Seminoles, Ole Miss Rebels and Stetson Hatters in its last five games.

Florida began the seven-day stretch with a 14-8 win over No. 11 FSU, the Gators’ fifth straight win against its in-state rival. UF then dropped its series opener 4-1 to Ole Miss and lost the first game of a Saturday doubleheader 5-2 before claiming a 8-4 victory in the series finale to hold off a sweep. The Gators then ended their short road swing with a rally-aided 9-6 win against Stetson on Tuesday in Deland, Florida.

Here are five takeaways from the last five games:

1. It starts with pitching: In Florida’s two losses at Ole Miss, its starters put the team in an early hole on the road, which spells trouble at every level of baseball. For the second week in a row, sophomore right-handed pitcher Logan Shore (3-2, 2.48 ERA) has given up at least one home run in the first inning. Against Tennessee last week, Shore settled down to pitch five more frames; this time, Shore (3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, WP) was unable to get through four innings. Sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk (4-2, 4.73 ERA) struggled even more. Puk (2.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 2 WP) was unable to make it out of the third inning of the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, ensuring another long day for the bullpen.

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