Florida baseball takes two to win series with Tigers


Florida's Hudson Randall pitches in the first inning of their game against Louisiana State University at McKethan Stadium on Saturday.

Tricia Coyne/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 5:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 8:35 p.m.

Once Kevin Chapman was instructed to start warming up in the bullpen, he immediately gave game one starter Alex Panteliodis a comforting message that his win was safe.

On Friday, Panteliodis carried No. 6 Florida to a 7-0 lead after five innings of work in which he struck out two and gave up just four hits to No. 9 LSU. Severe weather suspended the opener until after game two Saturday.

Gator relievers Greg Larson and Nick Maronde started the second game giving up a combined six hits and five runs in the sixth and seventh.

Then Chapman stepped onto the mound with one out in the top of the seventh and runners at second and first. The left-handed junior wasn't fancy, just effective.

"It sort of stunk a little bit thinking we had an 8-0 lead going into the sixth inning," Chapman said. "When that happens you come in and shut them down."

That's what he did, earning his eighth save of the year by retiring eight of the last nine LSU batters as Florida (30-11, 14-6 SEC) held on for the series-clinching 8-5 win following Florida's 7-3 win over the Tigers (32-12, 11-9) earlier in the day.

Panteliodis is now 7-2 with a 2.70 ERA.

"To take two early from them is huge," said Florida freshman catcher Mike Zunino, who finished the two games with four combined hits and scored three runs. "It gives us a lot of confidence going into tomorrow. We just have to stay focused, and it takes a lot to beat a good team like this and three wins would be huge."

The day's first game was relatively smooth for the Gators, but there was an early shock for freshman pitcher Hudson Randall.

LSU's Mikie Mahtook's took Randall's first pitch over the left-field bleachers, giving the Tigers an early 1-0 lead. He then gave up a single to shortstop Austin Nola.

Randall then heard chirping coming from LSU's dugout. He declined to say what the LSU players were saying to him, but said it was "things that were getting to me."

It fueled him as he sat his next three batters. He struck out two more in the second and forced the Tigers into inning-ending double plays in the second and third innings. He retired 13 of his last 15 batters to improve his record to 5-3 (3.03 ERA). He had a career-high seven strikeouts and matched a career high with eight innings pitched.

"That first pitch killed me," Randall said. "I was (upset) that I left that one up, but I got over it and settled down and got in a groove. From then on out, it was all good things.

"I felt better after they started talking and I started shutting them down."

With Florida clinging to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth, LSU starter Chris Matulis walked lead-off batter Jonathan Pigott and gave up back-to-back singles to Josh Adams and Nolan Fontana, loading the bases. He then walked Daniel Pigott, scoring his younger brother to make it 3-1. Two batters later, freshman Austin Maddox grounded into a fielder's choice to third to scoreFontana, extending the lead to 4-1.

Jonathan Pigott brought home senior Matt den Dekker, giving Florida a 5-1 lead in the fifth. Matulis (5-2, 5.86 ERA), who earned the loss, was pulled with two runners on after four innings, in which he gave up nine hits.

Righty Ben Alsup then gave up back-to-back sacrifice flies to Adams and Fontana to give Florida the 7-1 lead.

Florida pounded LSU starter Anthony Ranaudo (2-2, 8.10), who earned the loss for game one, on Friday with six hits and four runs off him in two innings. Adams hit a three-run homer and Tyler Thompson drove in two with a triple.

"I really like the way we're swinging the bats," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "The story of the first two games is the bottom-half of the order. We're getting a lot of production (from hitters) seven-eight-nine. When you're able to do that, there's no giveaway innings."

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