It looks like Florida baseball is for real. Like, start-checking-regional-predictions and let-the-thought-of-a-trip-to-Omaha-creep-into-your-mind for real.
The No. 24 Gators have won eight in a row and 15 of their last 18. They swept South Carolina last weekend, and this weekend, they blanked No. 11 Georgia on the road. Here's a quick recap of their tilt with the Bulldogs:
Game 2, UF wins 7-6
I'll get to why Game 2 comes first in a moment. The Gators plated six runs over the middle three innings, and reliever Billy Bullock (pictured) closed it out, retiring all six batters he faced to get the save.
Game 1, UF wins 10-9 (11 innings)
This was a wild one. The game was tied 9-9 in the bottom of the ninth when it was suspended due to weather on Friday. The teams picked it up Saturday evening after the second game, and Bullock threw again, earning the win in 1.1 hitless innings. Freshman Tyler Thompson provided the game-winner with a two-out RBI single to score Avery Barnes in the top of the 11th. UF was down 8-0 in the third inning (rough start for Stephen Locke, who gave up eight runs on nine hits in the first two frames) and trailed 9-7 in the eighth before making the comeback. The win clinched the series against UGA for the third-straight year, and it marked the fourth-straight time the Gators have taken the series in Athens.
Game 3, UF wins 10-8
Florida trailed 7-4 going into the ninth, but the Gators cranked out six runs in the last frame--including a three-run dinger by Preston Tucker--to complete another comeback and polish off the sweep. Care to guess who got the save? That's right, Billy Bullock. It was his 10th save of the season, the most by a UF pitcher since Paul Rigdon in 1996. The school record is 13, and if Bullock keeps this up, he'll be there soon. Bullock was 1-0 with two saves on the weekend, a pretty remarkable feat, and the former starter will be critical heading into the postseason, when having a solid pitching staff through-and-through is a must.
The Gators (34-14, 16-8 SEC) are sure to take a big step forward in the Baseball America Poll this week, and they'll have a chance to prove they're real contenders when they travel to No. 5 LSU next weekend. First, they host Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and after facing the Tigers, they'll host Jacksonville and then close out the regular season with a three-game series against Kentucky.
From there, they head to the Magic City, Joseph Goodman's hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, for the SEC Tourney from May 20-24. Barring a late-season collapse or a disaster in the conference tournament, Florida has a good chance to play host to one of the 16 NCAA Regionals as well.
Vote for McArthur
Go HERE to vote Florida's Brandon McArthur for the Lowe's Senior Class Award. Dude definitely deserves it after all he has been through. He's currently trailing UNC's Adam Warren by two percentage points, and last I checked, UF is a much larger school than Carolina, so there's no excuse for McArthur losing.