Gators kick off pivotal SEC baseball series vs. Arkansas tonight
After splitting a pair of mid-week games - a loss to USF and a victory over Bethune-Cookman, No. 2 Florida (32-10/11-7 SEC) will conclude its nine-game homestand at McKethan Stadium with an important league series against No. 17 Arkansas (29-12/9-9 SEC) this weekend.
The first two games - tonight and Saturday- will begin at 7 p.m. Sunday’s finale will begin at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN.
The Gators are currently two games behind No. 3 Kentucky (35-7/13-5 SEC) for the top spot in the SEC and in the Eastern Division, while the Razorbacks are three games behind No. 6 LSU (33-9/12-6) in the Western Division standings.
Tonight, UF junior Hudson Randall (3-1, 3.52) will face Arkansas sophomore Ryne Stanek (6-2, 2.30). Randall will be making his first Friday night start since March 30 at Ole Miss. He is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in two career starts and appearances against the Razorbacks. In 12.2 innings, he has given up 12 hits and six runs (four earned), with seven strikeouts and one walk.
On Saturday night, Gator left-hander Brian Johnson (5-2, 4.04) will be making his third career start versus UA a pitcher to be announced. As a rookie, Johnson threw seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts but was not involved in the decision. Johnson suffered the defeat last year at Baum Stadium (4.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 K, 2 BB).
Sophomore Jonathon Crawford (4-1, 3.86) will meet UA junior DJ Baxendale (6-2, 3.78) to conclude the weekend. Crawford has never seen any action versus UA. In six SEC starts spanning 27 innings this season, he is 3-0 and has registered a 2.67 earned run average.
Through six of the 10 conference series, Florida is 11-7 and Arkansas is 9-9. The Gators have won four of their six weekend sets, including the last two at Tennessee (W, L, W) and against Georgia (W, L, W). UF’s last five SEC series have come down to a deciding third game (3-2 record). The Razorbacks are 3-3 in their league series, with a sweep of Alabama and 2-1 decisions over Mississippi State and Georgia. UA was swept by LSU and has dropped its last two series to Kentucky and Ole Miss by identical 2-1 margins.