Florida’s come from behind victory evens series against LSU

No.6 Florida baseball came from behind on Saturday night, evening up the series after defeating No.5 LSU 6-4 in 11 innings of play in front of a sold-out crowd inside Alex Box Stadium.

Trailing 4-2 in the 8th adding, the Gators added a run on a wild pitch from LSU’s left hander Nate Ackenhausen. In the 9th inning, Ty Evans delivered a clutch two-out RBI single to center field, which tied the game at four and forced extra innings.

After a scoreless 10th inning, Jac Caglianone smashed a 416 foot two-run bullet over the fence in right center field, giving the Gators a 6-4 lead.

Needing just three outs, Ryan Slater tossed his second scoreless frame of the contest in the bottom of the 11th, striking out one while getting three-hole hitter Jared Jones to ground out to secure a Gators victory.

“Ryan Slater was great. Neely was really good. It was just a really good game,” Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan said postgame. “We showed some resiliency. Obviously, Jac with the big home run. They tried to throw a fastball by him and he jumped all over it. It’s really a win that we needed. We’ve been struggling a little bit this year up to this point. I’ve been saying all along that our young freshmen are getting better. Hopefully, this is another step in the right direction.”

Outstanding effort from the bullpen

Florida doesn’t win this game without 6.2 scoreless innings of relief from their bullpen. Relief pitching has been a major issue this season, mostly due to the inconsistency from their younger arms, but it wasn’t tonight. Kevin O’Sullivan used five different arms out of the bullpen, three of which were true freshman.

The Gators’ bullen allowed a combined three hits across their 6.2 innings pitched and walked four batters, three of which came from RHP Luke McNeillie. The only other bullpen arm to walk a better was LHP Frank Menendez.

Florida’s pitchers showcased the ability to work themselves out of high-pressured situations on Saturday night. Menendez was the first call to the pen, who entered in the 5th inning with two runners on base and one out. The Miami, Florida native retired back-to–back Tigers to keep the game at 4-2.

Luke McNeillie took over in the 6th after Menendez walked the Tigers’ eight-hole hitter. With the help of Tanner Garrison behind the plate, McNeillie was able to get out of the 6th without allowing a run.

In the bottom of the 8th, Grayson Smith came in with a runner in scoring position to face one of the better hitters in the country in Tommy White. This was likely an analytical move as Smith possesses a fantastic splitter, which has a high whiff rate. Needing to post another zero on the scoreboard, Smith gets White to ground out to end the inning.

With the game tied at four, Kevin O’Sullivan turned to his best arm in Brandon Neely, who retires the Tigers in order.

Florida pinch hit for Tanner Garrison and moved Luke Heyman to catcher, which means the Gators had to give up their DH spot. Neely, the pitcher at the time, was due up to hit with the bases loaded, so Florida pinch hit for him, which removed Neely from the game.

Ryan Slater took over in the 10th and the rest was history.

Florida’s bullpen did an incredible job of picking each other up and finishing the job, something they have struggled with this season. It’s particularly encouraging that the Gators were able to do this with three true freshmen, who have likely never pitched in front of nearly 13 thousand fans before.

Approach at the plate

Florida’s approach at the plate was very similar to Friday night’s disaster, at least until the 9th inning. LSU pitching gifted Florida their first three runs of the game due to walks and wild pitches. The Gators had just three hits heading into the 9th inning and finished the game with eight. Florida’s first hit of the game didn’t come until the 4th inning.

The Gators are going to have to cut down on strikeouts if they want to increase their chances at winning the series tomorrow. Florida struck out 16 times tonight, which makes it 33 for the series after 17 strikeouts on Friday night. Florida was 0-4 with runners on third base and less than two outs tonight.

Sunday’s rubber match¬†

Florida and LSU will play at 3:00 PM for the series on Sunday afternoon. The Gators are in a good spot as Jac Caglianone will take the mound in game three, who has a 1.77 ERA across 20.1 innings pitched this season. Florida also has a number of bullpen arms available due to their committee approach in the bullpen on Saturday.

“That was the message at the end. We enjoy this win now, certainly, but we’ve got a chance to win the series and we’ve got Jac (Caglianone) on the mound,” O’Sullivan said on carrying this momentum into Sunday. “And we’ve got plenty of arms left. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that Brandon only threw 12 pitches tonight. We’ve got a chance to win the series and that’s always what we talk about. If we can split one of the first two and hopefully Jac can throw like he’s been throwing, it gives us a really good chance to win the series.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nick Marcinko
Nick is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. He is passionate about all sports but specifically baseball and football. Nick interned at Inside the Gators and worked part time with Knights247 before joining the Gator Country family. Nick enjoys spending his free time golfing and at the beach.