LSU avoids sweep, wins 9-4

LSU (29-23-1/12-14-1 SEC) salvaged the finale of its weekend series with a 9-4 victory over Florida (27-26/14-13 SEC) on Sunday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium. Trailing 4-3, the Tigers used a three-run fourth and four scoreless innings from freshman reliever T.J. Forrest to seal the win. Sophomore starter Ryan Byrd (6-1) scattered seven hits and gave up four runs over five full innings to earn the decision.

LSU took its first lead of the series with three runs on four hits in the opening stanza against freshman Billy Bullock (Valrico, Fla.) (2-6). Sophomore Chris McGhee led off with a single to center and a base-hit by sophomore Nicholas Pontiff left the Tigers with two runners in scoring position. A grounder to first by freshman Blake Dean brought in McGhee and freshman Sean Ochinko delivered a two-out single to left for a 2-0 advantage. Bullock plunked freshman Ryan Schimpf to load the bases and sophomore Buzzy Haydel’s bloop single plated freshman Jared Mitchell, who had started the two-out rally with a walk.

Florida came right back with three runs on three hits in the second to even the game. Senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) started things off against Byrd with his 11th homer, just out of the reach of left fielder Schimpf. Sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) followed with a single and freshman Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) roped a ball to center that resulted in his first career triple when the ball eluded a diving Mitchell. A throwing error on the relay by junior shortstop Michael Hollander enabled Pigott to forge a 3-3 stalemate. Freshman Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) earned a free pass, was sacrificed to second by sophomore Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) and took third on freshman Cole Figueroa’s (Tallahassee, Fla.) grounder. However, Byrd stranded the runner by having junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) pop up to short.

UF moved in front, 4-3, on a squeeze bunt by Barnes in the fourth. Pigott doubled to left center with one down and advanced to third on Neer’s base-hit. Barnes pushed a bunt on the infield grass up the first-base line to collect his 14th RBI.

In the bottom of the frame, the Tigers seized a 6-4 lead with three runs on three hits. Schimpf drew a leadoff walk but was forced at second on Haydel’s bunt attempt. A single by sophomore J.T. Wise gave the hosts two runners aboard and ended the afternoon for Bullock (3.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 K, 3 BB). McGhee greeted junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) with an RBI single into right field to plate Haydel and Wise also scored on a throwing error by Tignor. Pontiff stroked a base-knock to give LSU a two-run edge and prompted another pitching change. Senior Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) prevented further damage by recording the final two outs.

Junior Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) bashed a pinch-hit double off the right-field wall with one down in the sixth off Forrest and moved to third on Barnes’ ground ball. The reliever had Figueroa tap out to second to keep the home team by a couple of runs.

LSU tacked on two additional runs in the home part of the sixth on a two-out single up the middle by Mitchell for an 8-4 cushion. Pontiff was hit by a pitch from sophomore Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) and Dean’s liner landed in right field for runners on the corners and one down. A sacrifice by Hollander left two men in scoring position and Mitchell sliced a 1-0 offering past a lunging Figueroa to give the Bayou Bengals a four-run lead. A run-scoring single by Wise the next inning brought across junior Steven Broschofsky to provide the hosts with a 9-4 margin.

LSU held a 13-9 advantage in hits, as four players chipped in with two apiece. Pride was 3-for-4 for UF, but Leclerc’s 13-game hitting streak came to an end with a 0-for-5 performance. The Gators will wrap up their regular season by hosting Eastern Division rival Tennessee (30-22/11-14 SEC) this week at McKethan Stadium. The three-game set will begin on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Courtesy UF Sports Info.