Johnson’s arm, bat do his talking vs. LSU

If Brian Johnson doesn’t hurt opposing teams with his left arm, he can do it with his bat. Sometimes, as was the case Sunday, he does both.

Florida’s freshman left-hander picked up the victory on the mound and also hit a grand-slam home run to lead the No. 6 Gators to a 13-6 victory and sweep of the No. 9 Louisiana State Tigers.

Johnson went 6.1 innings on the mound, allowing nine hits, three runs (two earned) and struck out four batters while walking none. Sixty-six of the 95 pitches he threw were for strikes, which is a lower ratio than he is used to. The freshman’s control wasn’t as sharp as it was last week against Arkansas. But with the benefit of a 10-1 lead, he was able to pitch to contact and allow the LSU hitters to get themselves out.

“I was scuffling with my fastball a little bit up in the zone,” Johnson said. “I just needed to pick up my pace with my windup.”

Johnson’s fourth-inning grand slam pushed Florida to a 10-1 lead and served as the shot that put LSU away for good. His reward for the performance was a face full of shaving cream, delivered by Josh Adams during a postgame interview with ESPN.

“Eyes, mouth, nose,” Johnson said of where the shaving cream still was even after five minutes with a towel to clean it up. “I’m just lucky I didn’t get any of it in my ears. It’s a great feeling.”

If there was a negative point of the weekend, it was the bullpen. The Gators have plenty of arms to choose from, but they still haven’t found the right combination to get the ball from the starting pitcher to closer Kevin Chapman. Luckily, the starting pitching and the offense have been sharp enough for it not to matter.

Steven Rodriguez and Anthony DeSclafani combined to go 2.2 innings, giving up four hits and three runs to end the game.

Chapman didn’t need to pitch and the Florida bullpen had some runs to work with thanks to an offense that came out swinging. LSU started its All-American closer, Matty Ott, trying to end a six-game losing streak. It was the first start of his collegiate career and things didn’t go as he and LSU head coach Paul Mainieri planned.

Before Sunday, Ott had allowed eight earned runs all season. He gave up nine earned runs on Sunday during 3.2 innings of work. He had only allowed two home runs in 29 innings before Sunday, but Florida more than doubled that total Sunday with a two-run home run by Matt den Dekker and a three-run home run by Austin Maddox.

The home run for den Dekker set the Florida offense off to a good start in the first inning. After Nolan Fontana started the game with a double, den Dekker tried unsuccessfully to get two bunts down to advance the runner. With an 0-2 count, den Dekker drove the ball over the right-field scoreboard.

“I was told to bunt a couple times and messed up there, then I got a pitch to hit,” den Dekker said. “It was a funny way to start the game for me.”

Oddly enough, den Dekker’s two failed bunt attempts were the only noticeably negative thing he did Sunday. He ended the game going 5-for-5 with four runs scored and four RBI. He also stole two bases, bringing his total to 16 on the season. It was the first five-hit game of his career and his team-leading 20th multi-hit game. It was also the third time he had at least three hits in a game. He became the first Gator to record five hits in a game since Josh Adams did on April 11, 2009 at Auburn.

“He’s one of our hardest working kids,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We’ll have an off-day tomorrow, and I’m sure he’ll be out here getting some swings. He’s one of if not our hardest working guy.”

After den Dekker’s two-run home run, Maddox knocked a three-run home run to left-center field that pushed the lead to 5-0. The rally started with two outs after den Dekker singled and Preston Tucker walked. Maddox got a hanging slider over the middle of the plate and gave Florida same breathing room.

“He had been throwing his breaking ball a lot, so I went up there and was sitting on a first-pitch breaking ball,” Maddox said. “He threw it right over the middle of the plate.”

Nine of Maddox’s team-leading 13 home runs have come during conference play. The home run also pushed him to 50 RBI this season.

Every Florida starter recorded a hit in the game.

The Gators return to action Tuesday night at home against Bethune-Cookman. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.


Eastern Division Conference Overall

(Rank) Team W-L Pct. GB W-L Pct.

(8) South Carolina 16-5 .762 — 34-9 .791

(10) Florida 15-6 .714 1 31-11 .738

(21) Vanderbilt 10-9 .526 5 33-12 .733

Kentucky 7-14 .333 9 24-20 .545

Tennessee 8-13 .381 8 24-21 .533

Georgia 3-16 .158 12 13-30 .302

Western Division Conference Overall

(Rank) Team W-L Pct. GB W-L Pct.

(7) Arkansas 14-7 .667 — 35-10 .778

(16) Mississippi 14-7 .667 — 33-13 .717

Auburn 12-9 .571 2 30-15 .667

(13) Louisiana State 11-10.524 3 32-13 .711

Alabama 9-12 .429 5 29-17 .630

Mississippi State 5-16 .238 9 20-23 .465

(Rank) Ranking in the Top 30


SUNDAY / May 2

Florida 13, Louisiana State 6

South Carolina 20, Alabama 15

Auburn 13, Arkansas 2

Georgia at Vanderbilt (2), canceled by rain

Tennessee 3, Kentucky 1

Mississippi 19, Mississippi State 11 (7) (inclement weather)


Florida 7, Louisiana State 3 (1st)

Florida 8, Louisiana State 5 (2nd, resumption of Friday’s game)

Alabama 6, South Carolina 4

Auburn 8, Arkansas 7

Tennessee 8, Kentucky 6

Mississippi 12, Mississippi State 10

Georgia at Vanderbilt (game suspended in the top of the fourth inning with Georgia leading 4-2; will conclude Sunday)

FRIDAY / April 30

Florida 7, Louisiana State 0 (game suspended by inclement weather in the bottom of the fifth; it will resume Saturday following the scheduled 2 p.m. contest)

South Carolina 9, Alabama 7 (11)

Arkansas 9, Auburn 4

Vanderbilt 17, Georgia 5

Kentucky 12, Tennessee 8

Mississippi 4, Mississippi State 2



Bethune-Cookman at Florida, 6:30 p.m.

Southeastern Louisiana at Louisiana State, 7:30 p.m.

Jackson State vs. Mississippi State at Pearl, Miss., 8:05 p.m.


Winthrop at South Carolina, 7 p.m.

Southern Mississippi at Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m.

FRIDAY / May 7

Florida at Alabama, 7:35 p.m. (CSS)

Tennessee at Georgia, 6:30 p.m.

South Carolina at Kentucky, 7 p.m.

Vanderbilt at Louisiana State, 8 p.m.

Arkansas at Mississippi, 8 p.m.

Mississippi State at Auburn, 7:30 p.m.


Florida at Alabama, 4:05 p.m.

Tennessee at Georgia, 1 p.m.

South Carolina at Kentucky, 7 p.m.

Vanderbilt at Louisiana State, 7 p.m.

Arkansas at Mississippi, 8 p.m.

Mississippi State at Auburn, 4 p.m.

SUNDAY / May 9

Florida at Alabama, 3:05 p.m.

Tennessee at Georgia, 2 p.m.

South Carolina at Kentucky, 1 p.m.

Vanderbilt at Louisiana State, 2 p.m.

Arkansas at Mississippi, 2:30 p.m.

Mississippi State at Auburn, 2 p.m.


The Top 30 is determined by combining four polls of USA Today / ESPN Coaches, Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

1. Texas (38-7) beat Baylor, 4-1.

2. Arizona State (38-5) beat No. 6 UCLA, 12-3.

3. Virginia (39-9) beat Duke, 10-6.

4. Georgia Tech (36-9) beat North Carolina State, 5-3.

5. Coastal Carolina (39-6) beat UNC Asheville, 7-1.

6. UCLA (30-10) lost to No. 2 Arizona State, 12-3.

7. Arkansas (35-10) lost to Auburn, 13-2.

8. South Carolina (34-9) beat Alabama, 20-15.

9. Florida State (33-11) beat LeMoyne, 17-1.

10. Florida (31-11) beat No. 13 Louisiana State, 13-6.

11. Texas Christian (34-9) beat Utah, 8-2.

12. Louisville (36-7) did not play.

13. Louisiana State (32-13) lost to No. 10 Florida, 13-6.

14. Miami, Fla. (34-11) beat Maryland, 9-1.

15. Cal State Fullerton (27-14) lost to Pacific, 18-10.

16. Mississippi (33-13) beat Mississippi State, 19-11 (7) (inclement weather)

17. Oklahoma (32-12) beat No. 24 Kansas State, 15-11.

18. Connecticut (35-9) at No. 29 Pittsburgh, canceled, inclement weather.

19. Arizona (29-13) beat Southern California, 9-7.

20. Stanford (21-17) lost to Washington, 4-3 (15).

21. Vanderbilt (33-12) vs. Georgia (2), canceled, inclement weather.

22. Oregon (30-14) beat Washington State, 6-1.

23. Virginia Tech (32-14) beat Boston College, 10-5.

24. Kansas State (30-12) lost to No. 17 Oklahoma, 15-11.

25. California (26-15) beat Oregon State, 9-3.

26. Clemson (26-17) beat Florida Gulf Coast University, 7-6.

27. Rice (26-16) did not play.

28. San Diego (26-16) beat San Francisco, 4-3.

29. Pittsburgh (31-11) vs. No. 18 Connecticut, canceled, inclement weather.

30. North Carolina (27-17) did not play.