Gators knocked out of SEC Tournament by LSU

HOOVER, Ala. — Rain and fog would only delay the inevitable for the Florida Gators. LSU jumped all over the Gators to send them home from the SEC Tournament 10-0 early Saturday morning.

Florida, now losers in six of their last seven games, looked lethargic in its two losses in Hoover and will need to hit the reset button before the NCAA Tournament starts on Friday.

“As much as I’d like to say no I think there was (a loss of focus). I think we got a little complacent,” junior Deacon Liput said. “Luckily it happened now and not in the NCAA Tournament. We need to go home, get on track and keep going.”

As far as the game goes, Florida turned to freshman Jack Leftwich, who was good. Leftwich retired the first six batters he faced with four strikeouts before LSU got to him in the third. Jake Slaughter doubled to start the frame and advanced to third. Leftwich bounced back with two more strikeouts but hit Beau Jordan in the hand with a fastball to give LSU runners on the corners. Antoine Duplantis doubled to plate Slaughter and a throwing error on Jonathan India, his third error of the tournament, allowed two more runs to score when India’s throw to first sailed allowing Austin Bain to reach base.

Offensively Florida had no answers for a depleted LSU pitching staff. Florida was just 5 for 26, an abysmal 1-13 with runners on base and 0-7 with runners in scoring position.

LSU exploded for seven runs in the sixth inning. Hunter McMullen took over for Leftwich. A single, balk, error and a wild pitch resulted in a run with just one out. The nightmare was far from over. Another walk, passed ball and error gave LSU another run, now it’s 5-0. Jordan Butler replaced McMullen but didn’t fare any better. Butler gave up a single and hit a batter before getting the second out of the inning. Then fog started rolling in over the left field awning, soon over the right field awning and down towards the field. Duplantis singled home two more runs and by the time Butler Walked Austin Bain the field was covered in a thick fog seemingly erasing the outfielders from view.

Umpires didn’t call the game. Butler got a lazy pop up from Daniel Cabrera but Austin Langworthy never saw it, India never moved from third base and the ball fell harmlessly onto the outfield grass, plating two more Tigers and extending the lead to 10-0.

The Gators will be a National Seed when the NCAA Tournament committee announces the field on Monday. Even with the late season slide Florida will likely be the No. 1 overall seed given their body of work, but they need to have a long look in the mirror after this last stretch of games and figure out how they’re going to end the season.

“The road to getting to Omaha is never easy,” O’Sullivan said. “There are always peaks and valleys. This year there hasn’t been many valleys, there just hasn’t. It’s easy to sit back when everything’s going well and play loose but when you get a gut check and have to dig deep down. The older guys on our team need to get the guys going and it’s a fun challenge from my standpoint. It’s something that’s kind of crept up on us but that’s why we’re in this profession. We gotta figure out how we can get these guys going and our staff will be totally committed this week to getting these guys ready for regional.”

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC