Josh Rivera throws the ball in a game last season. Photo courtesy of Tim Casey.

Baseball Loses Series Finale Against LSU

Two innings of a nine-inning game played pivotal for the Gator baseball team (17-7, 3-3 SEC) in its rubber match against the LSU Tigers (17-7, 3-3 SEC) Sunday. Through three innings, pitching was solid by both teams and a possible pitching duel was on deck. But two home runs in the top of the fourth inning and a seven-run sixth inning from the Tigers put the game out of reach, handing the Gators their first SEC series defeat of the season as they lose 11-2.

The 4th Inning

Ryan Slater got the start on the mound for the Gators. Despite hitting two batters in the first three innings, he was able to get through the LSU lineup easily, getting multiple groundouts and flyouts.

However, in the fourth inning, the trouble started.  Slater hit Jordan Thompson with no outs. Brayden Jobert then stepped up to the plate and skied a fastball up in the air to right field. It looked as though it would be a routine fly ball, but the wind carried it over the wall for a home run, just out of the reach of Sterlin Thompson.

Slater then hit Gavin Dugas, and Hayden Travinski capitalized, crushing another two-run home run. This time, over the left-field fence, extending the Tigers lead to 4-0.

Slater’s day was done after that, finishing with 3.1 innings pitched, four earned runs and one strikeout.

The 6th Inning

Philip Abner began the inning on the mound for the Gators, but two hit-by-pitches and two singles brought Brandon Neely into the game. Neely first faced Jacob Berry, who had a sacrifice fly to extend the Tiger lead to 6-0 with two outs in the inning.

Then, things quickly got out of hand. Thompson singled into center field, driving in a run to put the Tigers up 7-0. During the next at-bat, Jobert crushed his second home run of the game, a three-run home shot, blowing the game open.

Later, a Giovanni DiGiacomo RBI double put LSU up 11-0, which is all the run support they would need to clinch the series.

“We couldn’t stay away from the big inning,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It’s extremely disappointing. I don’t remember at my career here at Florida we’ve had two back-to-back losses like that at home in SEC play.”

Gators Pitching Struggles Saturday and Sunday

After Hunter Barco pitched seven shutout innings Friday night, the Gator pitching staff struggled the rest of the weekend.

The staff surrendered 14 earned runs in Saturday’s game and 11 on Sunday’s. Additionally, the staff struggled to find the strike zone, walking seven batters in Saturday’s game and hitting eight batters in Sunday’s match up.

“Getting two starts that last three innings is not going to work,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re going to need some strike throwers to start games, it’s that simple. When you hit seven or eight batters, that’s not good.”

Bats Go Quiet

Despite an impressive offensive performance Friday hitting three home runs, the offense struggled to get runs across the plate to end the weekend. The Gators had just five hits in both games Saturday and Sunday and only combined for six runs over those two games compared to LSU’s combined 27 runs in those games.

A Wyatt Langford run scoring single and a Kris Armstrong RBI ground out produced the only runs on the day for the team.

Up Next

The Gators have tough week ahead of them, going on the road to face the seventh-ranked Florida State Seminoles. The team will the head to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs for a series that starts on Thursday.

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