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Series Preview: Florida baseball hosts Georgia State for second weekend series of 2022

After dropping two of the first three games of the 2022 season, Florida baseball is looking to build on its midweek improvements in a weekend series against Georgia State.

Florida struck out 31 times against Liberty in the opening series, but the Gators only fanned 10 times over the week against Stetson and North Florida. This weekend series will be a good opportunity for Jud Fabian and Kris Armstrong to get back into their grooves. Fabian, who struggled with strikeouts last year, leads the team early on with six strikeouts, and Armstrong is batting just .050 through his first 20 at-bats.

Fortunately, others have stepped on the offensive side of the ball. Sterlin Thompson’s bat continues to be on fire — he’s batting .400 with three home runs so far this season — and Colby Halter has notched a hit in each of Florida’s five games.

Pitching is still a work in progress, but things are coming along nicely. Ryan Slater was named the closer until further notice, and he proved his worth with a 2 1/3 innings save against North Florida on Wednesday.

Hunter Barco will be back on the mound Friday night for Florida. He received national attention after his 11-strikeout performance on opening night. Timmy Manning and Pierce Coppola will round out the weekend rotation, but the two will swap days after Manning got the Tuesday start against Stetson.

Projected Starting Lineup

C

Mac Guscette

1B

Kendrick Calilao

2B

Colby Halter

3B

Deric Fabian

SS

Josh Rivera

LF

Wyatt Langford

CF

Jud Fabian

RF

Sterlin Thompson

DH

Kris Armstrong

Notes: Catcher B.T. Riopelle should play over the weekend as well.

Probable Starters: Friday (6:30 p.m. EST)

Team

Pitcher

Record

ERA

GEORGIA STATE

LHP Brandon Kaminer

0-0

2.25

FLORIDA

LHP Hunter Barco

1-0

0.00

NOTES: Hunter Barco received national honors after striking out 11 on opening night against Liberty. He pitched six innings of one-hit baseball and left no debate as to who the team’s ace was.

Brandon Kaminer transferred from LSU after pitching two seasons for the Tigers and earning a degree. He’s the only lefty in the Panthers’ weekend rotation and has been solid at every level of his career.

Probable Starters: Saturday (4 p.m. EST)

Team

Pitcher

Record

ERA

GEORGIA STATE

RHP Chandler Dawson

1-0

0.00

FLORIDA

LHP Pierce Coppola

0-0

4.15

NOTES: Coppola impressed in his debut as a starter by striking out seven in 4 1/3 innings of two-run ball. The lefty gets the Saturday start this week to give Timmy Manning an extra day of rest.

Dawson was a standout arm in the bullpen last season for Georgia State, but he’s doing even better as a starter for the Panthers this season. He kicked off his season with five scoreless innings against Purdue Fort Wayne.

Probable Starters: Sunday (1 p.m. EST)

Team

Pitcher

Record

ERA

GEORGIA STATE

RHP Dylan Matela

0-0

3.00

FLORIDA

LHP Timmy Manning

0-0

9.00

NOTES: Manning got a midweek start against Stetson on Tuesday to boost his confidence, but he only pitched one inning. An extra day of rest should have him ready to go against Georgia State.

Matela pitched a scoreless frame against Florida in 2021 and finished the season with the lowest batting average against (.173) on the team.

Series History

OVERALL

10-2

AT HOME

9-1

AWAY

1-1

NEUTRAL

0-0

NOTES: The Gators have an interesting history with the Panthers. Following a three-game sweep of Georgia State in 1996, the teams took a 25-year break from playing each other only to start things back up in 2021. Florida’s 5-1 home win last season made it eight-straight victories over GSU

Follow the Action

FRIDAY (6:30 p.m. EST)

SATURDAY (4 p.m. EST)

SUNDAY (1 p.m. EST)

* Watch links go directly to game feed

Predictions

GAME 1: FLORIDA,5-3

GAME 2: FLORIDA, 6-1

GAME 3: FLORIDA, 4-2

SERIES: It should be easy to predict a sweep against a team like Georgia State, but Florida’s shown enough inconsistencies early on to warrant some caution. If the offense shows up for all three games in the series, the Gators should come out of the weekend with a 6-2 record.

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