Vandy Florida Preview

Vandy Florida Preview
May 13, 2011, 1:11 pm
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by Knox

The balance of power could shift in the SoutheasternConference baseball standings after a weekend series between Florida (37-2,18-6 SEC) and Vanderbilt (41-6, 19-5 SEC) at Charles Hawkins Field inNashville, Tenn. Game 1 will start at 7 p.m. and be broadcast on CSS.The nationally second-ranked Commodores will host thefifth-ranked Gators and sit just one game above Florida in the SEC Eaststandings. Each team has just two SEC series remaining on the regular-seasonschedule, placing even more importance on this weekend series.Vanderbilt will send its ace, junior Sonny Gray, to themound on Friday to start the series. In 12 starts, Gray is 9-3 with a 1.94 ERAand 95 strikeouts in 83 13 innings of work. Gray ranks fourth in the SEC inERA and second in strikeouts, and holds opposing hitters to a stingy .186batting average, the best of any pitcher with at least 10 starts.Florida will counter Hudson Randall (8-2, 2.05 ERA), wholeads the Gators with eight wins. The sophomore right-hander has 44 strikeoutsin 79 innings, but has only walked four batters this season; far and away the bestcontrol of any SEC pitcher with at least 10 starts. Randall ranks fifth in theSEC in ERA and holds opposing hitters to a .223 batting average.The last time these two teams met was in the 2010 SECTournament when Florida won, 5-2, to advance to the tournament semifinals.Florida also leads the overall series with Vanderbilt with a 120-62-1 recordall-time, and a 49-37-1 record in Nashville.- With only six SEC games left for both teams, a sweep of Florida by Vanderbilt this weekend mathematically eliminates the Gators from a possible SEC regular season title, and a tournament No. 1 seed.
- Its difficult to imagine a series sweep when teams of this caliber face off, but in 10 of the 14 series between Florida and Vanderbilt, one team has swept the other. The Gators have recorded seven of the 10 sweeps.
- The last time Vanderbilt and Florida met, in the 2010 SEC Tournament, Hudson Randall (Fridays starter) was on the mound for the Gators. In fact, it was his college baseball postseason debut.
- If recent trends are to continue, Florida should win Game 1 on Friday. In each of the last three seasons, Florida has won the first game of its three-game series against Vanderbilt.
- Vanderbilt and Florida tend to play close games. Of the teams 183 games against one another, 68 have been decided by two runs or less. And 42 of those 68 games were 1-run games.
- Florida is a much better team during weekend series, than during the week. The Gators are 30-6 in weekend series and 7-6 in mid-week games.
- Florida and Vanderbilt are evenly matched in many statistical categories. The Commodores have a team .318 batting average, while the Gators are hitting .313. Only 12 runs separate the two, as Florida has scored 312 times while Vanderbilt has crossed the plate 324 times. Their team ERAs are close (Vanderbilt 2.35, Florida 2.57) and each team has driven in 285 runs. Where the two differ are strikeouts and home runs. Florida holds a sizeable advantage with 40 home runs as a team, versus just 29 for Vanderbilt. The Commodores staff has produced 412 strikeouts compared to just 369 by the Gators. This series could come down to which team produces better in its power advantage. Will the power hitters from Florida shine, or will the power pitchers from Vanderbilt contain the Gators?

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