Florida baseball at 13-16 after tough March

By Adam Silverstein
April 1, 2013

By Andrew Olson – OGGOA Contributor

The month of March started the way it ended for Florida Gators baseball, with a series victory. Unfortunately for Florida, in between its victories in the Miami and Ole Miss series, the team went 6-8, dropping three-consecutive weekend rubber matches and two midweek contests to in-state rival Florida State.

For the Gators, February ended on a five-game losing streak, including a surprising three-game sweep by Florida Gulf Coast in Gainesville, FL.

Florida opened March with a series against then-No. 21 Miami. UM claimed the series opener 3-2, extending UF’s losing skid to six games. Determined to right the ship, the Gators did just enough on the mound and at the plate to capture the next two games 6-4 and 6-3. The deciding factor of the series was the Hurricanes’ poor defense (seven errors), a problem that frequently plagues Miami in Gainesville.

The positive momentum from the UM series continued when Florida took back-to-back games from Jacksonville. Again, the Gators benefited from an opponent’s fielding issues. This time, UF cashed in on JU’s eight errors over the two games.

Florida’s series with Indiana ended the non-conference weekend portion of the season on a low note. The Hoosiers snapped the Gators’ four-game winning game streak by taking the series opener 4-1. UF battled back on Saturday to even the series with a 6-4 win. In the rubber match, IU starter Kyle Hart kept Florida off the board for seven innings while the Hoosiers accumulated a 7-0 lead. The Gators took advantage of a fielding error and a wild pitch in a four-run eighth inning. The rally ended there, with UF dropping the game 7-4 and the series to IU 2-1.

Florida and FSU met twice in March. The Seminoles were carried by a strong start from Luke Weaver and chipped away at five Gators pitchers for a 4-1 win in Gainesville on March 12. Two weeks later in Jacksonville, Weaver was on the mound again for Florida State. Florida’s freshman hurlers Tucker Simpson and Danny Young held its rivals to one run over seven innings. The Seminoles took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth and held on for the win. Young was the losing pitcher despite an impressive four innings of work, allowing only two hits.

The Gators also entered league play in March, a tall task for a struggling team considering the SEC is arguably the best conference in college baseball this season. Florida went 4-5 against the three teams it faced, establishing that it can compete with the best but also showing that there is plenty of room for improvement.

UF notched its first Friday night win of the season when it defeated Kentucky 4-1. Freshman right-hander Jay Carmichael tossed 5.2 innings, allowing only one run on three hits. But the Wildcats bounced back to take the next two games 11-5 and 6-2.

A midweek 9-4 win over North Florida gave Florida some momentum going into a series with then-No. 2 Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN. A three-run homer from sophomore catcher Taylor Gushue carried UF to a 7-1 win in the series opener. Gushue, who had gotten off to a slow start at the plate, is now hitting .310 in conference play with two homers, two doubles and five RBI.

For the second weekend in a row, the Gators were unable to claim a series over a highly-ranked SEC team despite going up 1-0. Junior right-hander Jonathon Crawford was battered for six runs on 12 hits in a 6-1 victory by the Commodores. Florida then caught a bad break in the Sunday finale as a weather delay caused the game to be cut to seven innings so that UF could make its flight home. The Gators led 4-2 after four innings but gave up a run in each of the final three innings of the shortened game. That resulted in a heartbreaking 5-4 loss that tilted the series in Vanderbilt’s favor.

Florida finally flipped the script for its series with Ole Miss. The Rebels did take the series opener 4-3 in 11 innings, but the Gators’ pitching staff was determined not to let their team drop a fourth-straight series. UF rallied with back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 2010 to pick up 7-0 and 4-0 wins and capture the team’s first SEC series.

Crawford’s complete-game shutout in Saturday’s victory earned him SEC Player of the Week recognition for the first time in his career. Young likely cemented his status as the new Sunday starter with 5.1 scoreless innings in his outing.

Seven-run showings against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss are signs that Florida is starting to turn it around at the plate. The Gators have three players hitting above .300 in conference play: Gushue, redshirt senior Vickash Ramjit (.324) and sophomore Justin Shafer (.308). Freshman Mike Fahrman had a big weekend in the designated hitter spot, going 3/6 with two doubles. Another freshman bat to watch is shortstop Richie Martin. Martin, who broke his finger in the 6-3 win over Miami on March 3, was used as pinch runner twice in the Ole Miss series. He was batting .342 and led the team in hits at the time of his injury.

At 4-5, the Gators are in the middle of the pack of the SEC – fourth in the East – and are on pace to be one of the 12 teams to make the 2013 SEC Tournament.

UF’s 13-16 overall record is a larger concern going forward as Florida needs to be at .500 at the end of the season to be eligible for an NCAA Regional. To reach that mark by season’s end, the Gators will need to win at least 15 of their last 27 games.

In extra innings contests so far this season, Florida is 0-4. In one-run games, the Gators are 1-7. If this team wants to get back to Omaha, NE for the fourth-straight season, those numbers have to drastically improve starting in April.

Photo Credit: Dave Martin/Associated Press


  1. Ken (CA) says:

    While I don’t expect this team to make it to the post season, there is a lot of young talent getting a lot of experience. We are losing a lot of close games, but they are …..close….on top of no Karsten Whitson, this team seams to slowly be coming together, they can compete with the best teams, just can’t quite get over the hump. We all knew it was going to be a big rebuilding year, and it is sometimes painful to watch, but they really seem to be improving and the pitching and defense is strong.

  2. Joe says:

    I believe that the light has come on for this team and they are starting to turn it around. We should be over 500 for the second half and just may end up slightly over 500 for the year. That being said we still have some serious flaws. We are not hitting in the clutch. We have had bases load with no or 1 out and have not be able to get a man home way way too many times. Bone headed base running. We must lead the league in runners picked off. We had 2 on Sunday and I think around 15 for the year. But on the plus side, Sully has found his starting rotation and Mags has stepped up and won the closer job. Middle relief is shaky but we have enough arms to handle this by committee and Sully seems to be much quicker with the hook this year than last. They have lost some heartbreakers in recent weeks but have not folded and they don’t let the last game effect the next one. Should be fun watching this team down the stretch.

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