Brandon McArthur is a sophomore second baseman for Florida who will contribute a weekly journal to in 2006. McArthur, from Seffner, Fla., made a miraculous return to the baseball diamond last year, two years after being randomly attacked and suffering life-threatening injuries from a punch to the head and fall to the ground. He had a total of three brain surgeries before becoming a key ingredient in the Gators' run to the College World Series title series in 2005. McArthur started 60 games at third base, batting .268 and driving in 30 runs as a redshirt freshman.



March 24, 2006

In Preparation of the SEC Wars


This has been a grueling stretch for the Gators as a team. After playing Florida State at the end of February, we got ready to take on a talented Big 12 team, Texas A&M.


Last year after playing both Nebraska and Texas in Omaha, we knew we were going to have a very good team coming to Gainesville. All three games against the Aggies were great games, but we found ourselves on the short end twice.


After Sunday's game, many of the guys didn't want to leave the field after dropping five of our last seven games. I think the next week actually returned the swagger in our favor - playing nine games in 10 days. I will tell you, I didn't know what to do with myself on that one day we had off because of the mandatory NCAA rule. It felt like we were on a summer ball schedule.


That Monday we had a great experience playing Aoyama University from Japan. Although we didn't come out on top in that exhibition, we felt honored to have the chance to play a team from overseas.


That Tuesday and Wednesday, we played UNC Greensboro and wouldn't you know it that our second basemen Matt Gaski's father is the head coach of the Spartans.


Matt made some great plays in that two-game series, and his father came out to argue the calls on those great plays. In the back of our minds, we all thought he was giving Matt props for making a couple of diving plays.


That next weekend, defending Ivy League champion Harvard came to town. Although we managed to sweep the Crimson, I think when you look down the road, they will be a very good ball team. I was on second one inning during a pitching change, and their second baseman told me it hadn't reached over 60 degrees back on their campus in Cambridge. It was in the 80s all weekend in Gainesville.


The questions then started to come through if we were ready for Arkansas coming to town the next weekend and the start of the SEC play. I think some people forgot we played UCF in the midweek game in that span. It is fun playing against guys who we have played with or against since we were 9 years old.


After the game in Orlando (a 10-3 win), we started refocusing ourselves on the start of the league schedule with Arkansas. When Friday night came around, it felt like a whole new season was beginning. The SEC is such a competitive conference every weekend. We took the opener 6-3, and Arkansas evened the series on Saturday with a 3-2 win.


Then the Sunday war took place. Arkansas jumped out to an early five-run lead in the first inning and built its lead to 7-0 in the seventh. Coach McMahon always talks about the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. He tells us every day to play them with the same intensity from the first to the last game of the season. In the seventh, we put together a five-run inning to narrow the deficit to 7-5. Time was running out, so when the inning ended we had to run onto the field as quick as we could because Arkansas had a flight out of Gainesville. In the bottom of the eighth, our first two hitters (Chris Petrie and David Cash) got on and were bunted to second and third safely by Bryson Barber. Adam Davis delivered a three-run shot to put us on top 8-7.


Darren O'Day came in and closed the door in the ninth, completing our comeback from a 7-0 deficit to end our first SEC series on a winning note.

Brandon McArthur


Previous Entries

Getting Better, Despite Some Bumps Along the Way (3/6/06)

Great Expectations (2/8/06)


(photo courtesy of Florida Media Relations Office)