The final week of the regular season is upon us and the schedule makers have blessed us with a premier matchup. The No. 1 Florida Gators (43-9, 18-8 SEC) hit the road this week to face the No. 8 LSU Tigers (37-16, 17-10 SEC) at one of the best college baseball stadiums in the country — Alex Box Stadium.
Florida currently holds a half game lead (due to a Sunday rainout at South Carolina) over Mississippi State and Texas A&M and a one game lead over South Carolina in the East. This weekend Mississippi State hosts Arkansas, Texas A&M hosts Ole Miss and South Carolina hits the road to play at Alabama.
The Gators have the toughest opponent of all the teams still in the race, but still have a chance to win the SEC outright with a strong performance in Baton Rouge. All three games will be nationally televised.
Thursday — 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Friday — 7 p.m. (SEC Network)
Saturday — 4:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
*All games can also be streamed on WatchESPN and the WatchESPN App*
- LSU leads the overall series with Florida, 57-43-1.
- Tigers have won six of the last 11 meetings between the teams.
- The Gators won the last meeting between the two teams, 2-1 in the 2015 SEC Tournament.
Last week: The Gators beat Vanderbilt on Friday and Sunday to take the series over the Dores. Logan Shore won his 15th consecutive decision, extending his school record, and Florida’s win on Saturday set a new school record for wins in a season.
LSU, winners of their last nine games, swept Tennessee in Knoxville last week. They outscored the Vols 23-11 and followed their weekend sweep up with a 7-2 win over Northwestern State.
Team batting average: .298
Team ERA: 3.99
Starters ERA: 4.16
Hitters to Watch:
LSU has an astounding seven batters hitting over .300 this season.
OF Antoine Duplantis — The freshman leads the Tigers with a .329 batting average and also with 71 hits.
C Jordan Romero — A junior college transfer, Romero leads LSU with nine home runs and a .605 slugging percentage.
INF Cole Freeman — The 5-9 junior college transfer is second on the team in batting average (.327), walks (29), on base percentage (.437) and steals (23).
Team batting average: .284
Team ERA: 2.92
Starters ERA: 2.89
The Gators got bad news last weekend when Pete Alonso had a 95-MPH fastball break a bone in his left hand. Florida, however, did get good news in the form of Jackson Kowar, who was out indefinitely with a collapsed lung, being cleared by doctors to return to the team. Kowar won’t be available this weekend, but he could be available for the SEC Tournament.
Thursday: RHP Logan Shore (10-0, 2.29 ERA) vs. RHP Alex Lange (7-3, 3.76 ERA)
Shore continued a phenomenal streak with another gem last Friday. His second complete game of the season opened Florida’s weekend with a win, something Shore has been able to do every start for over a year.
Sophomore Alex Lange had to talk his way into this start. After throwing last Friday, Paul Mainieri had planned on keeping Lange on normal rest, throwing him on Friday. Lange wanted to face Florida’s best and talked his coach into giving him the Thursday start on short rest. Lange has held opponents to a .227 batting average against him this season.
Friday: LHP A.J. Puk (2-3, 2.88 ERA) vs. RHP Riley Smith Jr. (1-0, 7.36 ERA)
A.J. Puk threw his best game of the season last weakened and walked away with a loss. Puk gave up one run, while striking out 10, but Florida was shutout for the first time this season.
Riley Smith Jr. will make his first career SEC start on Friday night against Puk. Last week Smith threw six innings of four-hit baseball against Notre Dame in his first start for LSU. Smith had appeared in nine games out of the bullpen before earning the start in South Bend.
Saturday: RHP Alex Faedo (10-1, 3.59 ERA) vs. LHP Jared Poché (6-4, 4.00 ERA)
Alex Faedo gave up six earned runs last week to Vanderbilt, the second most he’s surrendered in a game this season, but earned his 10th win. Faedo gave up six runs in the first four innings before settling down.
Poché scattered eight hits over 5.1 innings of work in an 11-3 win over Tennessee last week. Poché has struggled with command of his fastball, causing a recent stretch where he allowed 19 earned runs in his four starts prior to last weekend.