The Florida baseball team sweeps a doubleheader from LSU on Saturday 2-1 and 6-2. The Gators are now 5-3 in SEC play, and 18-9 overall on the season.
First pitch of the double header was thrown just after 4 Saturday afternoon and it turned out to be a pitching duel. One of the nation’s best, Aaron Nola, pitched for LSU while Eric Hanhold pitched for Florida. Both pitchers gave up solo homers entering the bottom of the ninth inning when Florida’s Justin Shafer delivered a game-winning homer giving Florida the win. Shafer spoiled what had been a complete game from Nola.
Nola, who was previously 5-0 on the season, earned his first loss after throwing 116 pitches, striking out five. On the other side of the ball, Hanhold pitched into the eighth inning, a career high, while striking out three. Aaron Rhodes pitched two thirds of an inning to get his third win of the season.
Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan was impressed with Nola’s start.
“Well, he throws strikes and if you start guessing against a guy like Nola, you’re going to be in trouble. The bottom line is that we tried to stay on his fastball, obviously he’ll throw it 70% of the time; it’s a good one. But, if you start thinking about his breaking ball and his changeup, then it’s going to be a long night. He locates and throws to both sides of the plate and the ball’s got heavy sink and you look up at the end of the year and he’ll go in the top-10, 15 picks in the (MLB) Draft. It takes a special effort on the mound to hold LSU down because if you give up three or four (runs), the chance of winning against a guy like Nola aren’t very good.”
Game 2 saw the Gators get another solid pitching effort but the bats came more alive. The Gators plated three runs in the fifth and sixth innings, three of them coming on a three run homer by Taylor Gushue. Gushue also scored twice in the game.
On the hill freshman ace Logan Shore was very good for Florida, going 8.2 innings and giving up just two runs, moving his record to 2-1. Lefty Bobby Poyner only needed to throw five pitches to close out the game and earn himself a save against the Tigers in the ninth.
With Saturday’s wins the Gators improve to 13-4 in the month of March.
The final game of the series is Sunday afternoon at 1pm. For coverage of the game you can listen to Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell on the Gator IMG Sports Network on Country 103-7 The Gator.