After loss to UCF, Florida Baseball is in search of a viable fourth starter

The Gators lost 9-6 to the Knights

Jun 25, 2023; Omaha, NE, USA; Florida Gators head coach Kevin O'Sullivan looks over the field before
Jun 25, 2023; Omaha, NE, USA; Florida Gators head coach Kevin O'Sullivan looks over the field before / Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

As the 27th out was recorded and Florida Baseball dropped another midweek game to an in state foe, there are two pathways a fan could take from Florida's 9-6 loss to UCF.

Pathway number one is that Florida lost a number of midweek games last season against in state foes and things still worked out.

Pathway number two is that Florida has a glaring weakness that needs to get solved if the Gators plan on making another deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

In truth both pathways are truth and is the puzzle that Kevin O'Sullivan has to solve.

Florida Baseball: Stuck In The Middle

Last week against Stetson the Gators fell behind 5-0 in the first inning and were not able to claw their way back. Last night against UCF, Florida was down 4-0 after the first inning and likewise was unable to claw their way back.

In both games, freshman Luke McNeillie got the start and it has not gone great for the former top 100 overall prospect who is currently sporting a 19.89 ERA and has allowed almost as many baserunners (18) as he has putouts (19).

In some ways, though, this is what mid-week games were for. Last season, we saw guys get a chance to sink or swim in games that ultimately didn't define the success or failure of the season. We saw multiple bullpen implosions before O'Sullivan was able to settle on a handful of arms he could trust.

Teams can get away without having a fourth starter come NCAA Tournament time if they are able to go 3-0 in their Regional Round. But Florida hasn't been able to go 3-0 in Regionals since 2016 and the need for a fourth starter is going to potentially loom.

One potential option to explore for next week's mid week contest against FSU is fellow freshman Alex Philpott. The 6'5" right hander was the 12th ranked right hander in the class of 2023 and is sporting a 1.42 ERA in 12.1 innings of work this season with 15 strikeouts.

The season is still young, and Florida has all the tools to make another deep run. It just needs to clean up one glaring weakness to cover all their bases come tournament time.