After dropping back-to-back games for just the third time in 2016 the Florida Gators didn’t have time to feel sorry. Two hours after dropping the series to LSU the two teams were back on the diamond to settle the score. Due to Southeastern Conference rules, the series finale would be a seven-inning game.
“You’re gonna lose, you’re gonna win, that’s baseball,” sophomore catcher Mike Rivera said on the ESPNU broadcast after the game. “It’s all about how you come back.”
The Gators jumped out to an early two-run lead and used a big four-run fifth inning to thwart LSU’s plans of a sweep, taking the game 6-2. The win earned Florida the No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament and the bye that comes along with it.
“We obviously struggled the first two games offensively, pitching wise and on defense,” Rivera said. “We all told each other that we have to learn from it, move on and that’s it. You can’t keep your head down.”
Kevin O’Sullivan turned to sophomore Alex Faedo, whose has been the Sunday stopper all season long, to avoid a sweep. Before Faedo even took the mound the bats gave Faedo something to work with.
Jonathan India drew a one-out walk and came around to score when JJ Schwarz doubled to left field. Deacon Liput singled to right-center, bringing Schwarz home standing up comfortably.
Faedo made one mistake in the first, a hanging slider that Jake Fraley deposited into the right field bleachers but settled down after, thanks in part to a change. O’Sullivan and Rivera went away from Faedo’s slider, calling more changeups.
“That was key,” said Rivera. “In the first inning Fraley hit a 1-2 slider, hit it out. After that we started using the changeup and you didn’t see anything else after that. The changeup was a huge pitch for him. Whenever he gets ahead he’s tough to hit.”
Faedo gave up just two hits over the next three innings, leading to Florida’s big fifth inning.
Jeremy Vasquez singled with one out before being pinch run for by freshman Blake Reese. O’Sullivan put on a hit-and-run with Ryan Larson, who singled up the middle, moving Reese to third. Dalton Guthrie was hit by a pitch to load the bases. India ripped a ball down the left field line to clear the bases, extending the lead to 5-1. India stole third and scored when JJ Schwarz launched a sacrifice fly into center field, giving Florida a 6-2 lead.
Kramer Robertson tripled with one out in the bottom half of the inning and scored on Chris Reid’s double. Faedo retired the next two batters he faced on seven pitches to get out of the inning without allowing any more damage.
After Florida put up a zero in the sixth, Faedo posted one out before a pinch-hit double by Brody Wofford chased him from the game. Shaun Anderson entered the game and shut down LSU, throwing 1.2 innings of scoreless, hitless baseball, preserving the win.