Gators open series against Kentucky tonight in nationally televised game
With just three league series remaining in the SEC regular season, No. 5 Florida kicks off a critical three-game series against Kentucky in Lexington tonigth. The No. 6 Wildcats (36-9/14-7 SEC) are tied atop the SEC standings with No. 3 South Carolina (33-11) and No. 4 LSU (35-10), two games ahead of the Gators (33-12/12-9 SEC) in both the overall and Eastern Division standings.
Tonight's game start time from Cliff Hagan Stadium is 7:30 p.m., and will be televised live on ESPNU.
Friday night's game is at 7 p.m. (CSS), and Saturday's game is at 2 p.m.
Through seven of the 10 conference series, Florida is 12-9 and Kentucky is 14-7. The Gators have won four of their seven weekend sets. UF’s last six SEC series have come down to a deciding third game (3-3 record). The Wildcats are 6-1 in their league series, with a sweep of South Carolina and 2-1 decisions over Tennessee, Georgia, Ole Miss, Arkansas and LSU. UK had won every weekend series this season until dropping two of three at Vanderbilt last weekend (5-2, 3-4, 1-6).
Junior right-hander Hudson Randall (4-1, 3.46) will get the start tonight. Kentucky will go with junior left-hander Taylor Rogers (5-2, 4.84). The Gators will turn to Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) (3-0, 3.86) on Friday, who will meet junior Jerad Grundy (4-1, 4.29).
The final game of the series will be a matchup of left-handers - junior Brian Johnson (5-3, 4.50) and Kentucky sophomore Corey Littrell (6-0, 2.44).
The Gators are 23-10 (.697) in games that are part of a weekend series and are 10-2 (.833) in mid-week contests. In SEC series this year, the Gators are 4-3 (.571) in game one, 4-3 (.571) in game two and 4-3 (.571) in game three. Kentucky is 3-4 (.429) in series openers, 5-2 (.714) in game two and 6-1 (.857) in game three.
The Gators have won nine of their last 11 series against Kentucky, including three-game sweeps in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005.