Florida hoping series win over rival Hurricanes ends funk
Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan seemed more confused than frustrated after the Gators went dormant offensively in three straight losses heading into Game 2 of their weekend series against rival Miami.
The Gators (5-3) batted .158, struck out 35 times and scored a total of four runs against South Florida, North Florida and the Hurricanes.
“I understand that everybody kind of goes through a tough stretch, but it’s only six games,” O’Sullivan said after a 5-2 loss to Miami. “I don’t know why this pressing would start this early. It’s the start of the season. We should be fine. We should be relaxed and go out there and play hard. I don’t see why that would be so difficult at this point in the season.”
Florida broke through Saturday, wiping out a 3-1 deficit to win 9-3. The Gators won 4-1 Sunday to take two of three for their fifth straight series win over Miami.
Last week probably will be a blip. The Gators always are loaded with talent, and they’ve made four straight College World Series appearances and seven in 10 years. Voters recognize all that capital, keeping Florida as high as No. 5 in the polls Monday.
“At the beginning of the season we started off struggling,” freshman first baseman Kendrick Calilao said, “but we’re starting to pick it up a little bit and getting a feel for it.”
IN THE POLLS
Vanderbilt (5-1), LSU (7-0) and Texas Tech (5-1) remain the top three teams in the D1Baseball.com poll. Baseball America has the Commodores and LSU 1-2 and UCLA (6-1) third. The top three teams by Collegiate Baseball newspaper are LSU, Vanderbilt and UCLA.
SHOUTOUT FOR SHUTOUTS
Tennessee (7-0) allowed one run over its first six games — none in its first 41 innings. The Volunteers have outscored Appalachian State, Northern Kentucky and Indiana by a combined 50-4. The Vols’ five shutouts so far are more than their combined total for 2017 and ’18.
DUDE HAD A DAY
East Carolina sophomore Alec Burleson’s performance against Monmouth on Saturday established him as a two-way player to watch. He went 6 for 7 with three doubles and three RBIs in the 3-1 and 10-0 wins. In the opener, he allowed five hits and one run and struck out 10 in seven innings. Burleson is batting .577 (15 of 26) in seven games and has struck out 14 and walked four in 12 innings.
New Mexico State, among the most prolific offensive teams the last couple years, has put up ridiculous numbers while bullying Texas Southern and Yale. The Aggies lead the nation with 18.3 runs per game, a .447 batting average, .554 on-base percentage and a .758 slugging percentage. Nick Gonzalez, the 2018 Western Athletic Conference freshman of the year, is first with a .675 batting average and tied for the lead with six homers. Let’s see if the Aggies can keep it up Tuesday at Texas Tech.
Defending national champion Oregon State (8-0) is among 18 unbeaten teams through the first two weeks of the season. Alex McGarry has been a pleasant surprise for the Beavers. He redshirted in 2018 after transferring from a junior college. He’s batting .577 with a team-leading 12 RBIs. … North Carolina and rival North Carolina State are 7-0. The Tar Heels on Sunday extended their home win streak to 25 games with a doubleheader sweep against South Florida, and the Wolfpack came from four runs down to beat Coastal Carolina 7-6 in 11 innings. NC State pitchers had held opponents without an earned run for 29 innings before Coastal Carolina scored in the first. … Long Beach State, which had 18 former players in the major leagues last year and is a 19-time NCAA Tournament participant since 1991, is 0-7 against a difficult schedule. It’s the worst start in the program’s 65-year history.