The No. 1-ranked Florida baseball team is on the road for its final SEC series of the regular season, visiting Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss.
The Gators (41-14, 20-9 SEC) had won all nine conference series so far this season and 19 straight regular-season series overall dating back to 2017, but that streak ended after they dropped the first two games of this series to the Bulldogs (30-24, 14-15).
Florida nonetheless clinched the outrightSEC’s regular-season title thanks to Arkansas’ loss to Georgia on Friday night in 10 innings.
Florida baseball vs. Mississippi State game details
When: Saturday, May 18
Where: Dudy Noble Field, Starkville, Miss.
Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Florida baseball vs. Mississippi State, how to watch online
The game Saturday can be streamed via WatchESPN.
Florida baseball vs. Mississippi State pitching matchups
Saturday: Florida RHP Jackson Kowar (9-2, 2.56) vs. TBA
Florida baseball vs. Mississippi State preview
The Gators wrap up a tremendous regular season with a thud, but that won’t likely matter in the big picture.
Coach Kevin O’Sullivan mixed up his rotation, giving freshman Tommy Mace his first SEC start on Thursday and then scratching ace Brady Singer on Saturday as a precaution for a hamstring issue. Freshman Jack Leftwich took his spot, giving up 6 runs (5 earned) on 8 hits in just 3 innings.
“Brady hasn’t missed a start in his whole career, but he had a little hamstring issue and I certainly didn’t want to take any chances. Obviously we need him down the stretch,” O’Sullivan said.
The Gators got a bigger scare when senior catcher JJ Schwarz left the game in the fifth inning after taking a foul tip off his hand behind the plate.
“Unfortunately he got hit on a foul tip behind the plate. He was going to come out the next inning anyways. It looks like a bruise so we probably dodged a bullet there,” O’Sullivan said.
Schwarz is batting .325 with 12 home runs, 16 doubles, 2 triples, 46 RBI and 50 runs scored.
On a positive, Austin Langworthy has homered in each of the first two games of the series after not hitting one all season.
As for the tough start to the series and the pitching shuffles, O’Sullivan is just looking forward.
“My job is to know our personnel going into the postseason,” he said. “I think after this weekend and after the SEC Tournament, a couple of these guys will get some more opportunities, I’ll have a really good feel for who can do what at this time of year when everything gets dialed up a little bit more. There are some positives to take away, obviously disappointed with the outcome today, but we’ll come out tomorrow and hopefully get another great start out of Jackson Kowar. His last two starts have probably been the best two of his career here. We’ll get him going and keep him on track then head up to Hoover on Sunday.”