Alright, let’s be honest, you did not see a sweep of Mississippi State coming. Especially at Dudy Noble Stadium. All the Gators did was go in and handle business and they deserve to be applauded for it.
The following are my takeaways from a really good weekend of baseball from the Florida Gators:
BT Riopelle is THAT guy
Most fans didn’t know what to expect from Riopelle, a transfer from Coastal Carolina who hit .270 but struck out 77 times last season. Additionally, Florida returned Mac Guscette, who raked during SEC play a year ago when he was on the field. Riopelle has exceeded all expectations. After a productive weekend that saw him earn SEC Co-Player of the Week, Riopelle is hitting .312 with 14 homers and 45 RBI. He’s also been the juice that has gotten this club going. He is one of the few guys that have shown significant emotion while playing this year and the team and home crowd really feeds on it.
Brandon Sproat is delivering
Unlike Riopelle, Brandon Sproat arrived on campus with massive expectations. Armed with a 100 mph fastball, he was expected to be “the guy” early and it just never clicked.
Except things changed quite a bit over the last six or so weeks. He continued his string of strong outings with a terrific effort on Friday. He tossed six innings and allowed just two runs to a team that entered the night second in homers in conference play. Sproat has learned to trust his secondary pitches but most importantly, he’s throwing strikes.
Bullpen saves the day?
Admittedly, the bullpen wasn’t perfect this weekend, in fact, they were far from it. But from where they have come from, this was a drastic and necessary improvement.
Yes, the bullpen gave up four runs (only two earned) and allowed Mississippi State to come back from a 7-0 deficit Friday, but they held down the fort and gave the Gators the chance to win the ballgame, which they did.
On Saturday and Sunday, the bullpen were the stars of the show. A trio of arms tossed five innings of one run ball Saturday while Fisher Jameson threw four innings of one-hit ball in Sunday’s sweep clinching finale.
The Spectacular Mr. Pogue
Nick Pogue’s journey back from Tommy John surgery has been well documented. It’s also been a bumpy road for the talented right hander.
Sunday, however, was easily the best outing of his season. Pogue threw five innings allowing just five hits and one run in the process. Maybe more important than that, Pogue rebounded from giving up a first inning run to shutting down a really good Bulldogs lineup and giving his team an opportunity to win.
This was exactly the effort head coach Kevin O’Sullivan needed as the Sunday starter has seen a revolving door of options since freshman Pierce Coppola went down with injury after just one start.
Florida will take on Bethune-Cookman in midweek action Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 PM from Condron Family Ballpark. The Gators will then travel to CoMo to take on the Tigers over the weekend.