Florida had a chance to steal a game from LSU with a favorable pitching matchup on Thursday night.
Unfortunately for the Gators, the bats didn’t do their part.
Florida (25-21, 12-10 Southeastern Conference) mustered just six hits as it fell to No. 3 LSU (41-6, 17-5 SEC) in Baton Rouge at Alex Box Stadium.
“It was a great ball game,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It was well played on both sides. We just didn’t do enough offensively.”
No. 1 starter Jonathon Crawford took the mound for the Gators while the Tigers countered with their third starter, left-hander Cody Glenn.
The Gators took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning as they loaded the bases on to back-to-back bunt singles from Cody Dent and Richie Martin and a Casey Turgeon walk. Taylor Gushue drove in Dent when the Tigers failed to turn a double play on a ground ball to Glenn, but that was the only run UF would get in the inning.
“You play on the road against one of the top teams in the country—and you get those situations— you’re not going to get them very often,” O’Sullivan said. “There’s going to be a time or two during the game that you’re going to get an opportunity to put a couple runs on the board and that was our shot. We just weren’t able, unfortunately, to do it.”
Florida couldn’t build on the run as Glenn proceeded to retire the next 12 batters he faced.
The lead didn’t last for long either as an RBI single from first baseman Mason Katz tied the game in the bottom of the inning.
The Tigers went ahead an inning later thanks to a Jacoby Jones home run to left field. UF starter Jonathon Crawford allowed the two runs in 5.1 innings of work while striking out four and giving up six hits.
Right-hander Ryan Harris replaced him in the sixth after Crawford gave up a double to right-center field. Harris got out of the inning with two consecutive strikeouts and retired LSU in order in the seventh.
Third baseman Josh Tobias singled to left with two outs in the seventh. Left fielder Harrison Bader followed and scored Tobias with a double to left-center field to tie the game at 2.
Harris gave up back-to-back singles to Alex Bregman and Mason Katz to start the eighth and was replaced by closer Johnny Magliozzi. A Magliozzi wild pitch allowed the runners to advance and then he walked Christian Ibarra to load the bases. Ty Ross followed Ibarra with a sacrifice fly to score Bregman and give the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
The middle of the lineup struggled for Florida as three-hole through six-hole hitters Gushue, Justin Shafer, Zack Powers and Vickash Ramjit combined to go 0 for 15 with five strikeouts on the night.
“We just need to get some contributions from the middle of our lineup,” O’Sullivan said.
The seven runs Florida has in its last three games are the second-fewest amount it has scored over a three-game span all season.
The matchup only gets tougher for the Gators on Friday night as they face sophomore right-hander Aaron Nola, who has posted an ERA of 2.14 on the season and struck out 90 batters in 88 innings.
“We’re not going to hit many of them,” O’Sullivan said of Nola’s pitches. “He’s thrown three straight complete games and is an outstanding pitcher. We’re going to come in here tomorrow expecting to win and be a little more aggressive at the plate.”
A radio broadcast contributed to this report.
Contact Josh Jurnovoy at email@example.com.
Florida players lean on the dugout railing while watching the Gators’ 14-5 win against South Carolina on April 13 at McKethan Stadium. Florida dropped the opener of its three-game series against LSU 3-2 on Thursday.