Gators blanked by Tigers, 5-0
Published: Friday, May 3, 2013 at 10:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 at 10:10 p.m.
BATON ROUGE, La. — It wasn’t a mystery for Florida that runs were going to be hard to come by Friday against LSU ace Aaron Nola.
Who: No. 21 Florida at No. 3 LSU
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Alex Box Stadium
Gainesville-area TV: ESPN2
Gainesville-area radio: 103.7 FM
That he went about things differently than he has most of the season was a little surprising. Not that it changed the results.
Nola logged his fourth consecutive complete game, and the LSU offense was just efficient enough in a 5-0 victory at Alex Box Stadium on an unseasonably cool night in South Louisiana.
Much like he has been all season, Nola (9-0) was in command from the get-go. He limited the No. 21 Gators (25-22, 12-11 SEC) to four hits and allowed only runner to get as far as third base. Unlike most of the season, Nola didn’t rely on the strikeout much, as he finished with a season-low three and didn’t fan a Florida hitter until the seventh inning.
The Gators’ only true threats came in the third and seventh frames when they had two runners on each inning.
Nola hit Josh Tobias with the first offering of the third and Harrison Bader rolled an infield single to the left side to create a scoring chance. But Cody Dent’s bunt right in front of the plate became a 2-5 fielder’s choice, Richie Martin poked a line drive to shortstop and Casey Turgeon tapped back to the mound.
In the seventh, Justin Shafer and Zack Powers produced back-to-back singles to start the at-bat — the only time all night Florida had consecutive hits. But another liner to short, this time by Vickash Ramjit, resulted in a double play to take the wind out of the Gators’ sails. Whatever momentum remained dried up when Nola got that first strikeout by breaking off a nasty backdoor curveball to catch Tobias looking.
“We had better at-bats (Friday), but not being able to capitalize on a first-(and)-second, no-outs twice really hurt us,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Nola had great command (Friday) of all three of his pitches. I thought we pitched well, just a few mistakes on some pitches we could have located better.”
LSU’s hitters didn’t fare much better against four Gator pitchers, but the No. 3 Tigers (42-6, 18-5 SEC) made the most of their nine hits by manufacturing a pair of runs on ground-ball outs and getting a handful of clutch hits.
The only run Nola needed came across in the second inning when Florida starter Bobby Poyner surrendered a leadoff single to Raph Rhymes and then plunked Christian Ibarra. Ty Ross bunted the runners up a base and JaCoby Jones tapped a slow roller to second base that scored Rhymes.
Three innings later, Jones ripped a leadoff single off Poyner and Jared Foster beat out a perfect bunt to the right side. Leadoff man Sean McMullen laced an opposite-field double just inside the left-field line to score Jones, and Foster dashed home on Mark Laird’s grounder to second base.