Florida baseball takes two from LSU

Florida's Justin Shafer celebrates as he rounds third base after hitting a game-winning solo home run in the first game of a doubleheader against LSU at McKethan Stadium on Saturday.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 7:17 p.m.

Weather finally allowed this weekend's SEC series between Florida and No. 8 LSU to get underway Saturday, and the Gators made the wait well worth it.

UF combined great pitching with timely hitting and outstanding defense to sweep a doubleheader from the Tigers by scores of 2-1 and 6-2 at McKethan Stadium.

Despite Friday's series opener being rained out and Saturday's twin bill being pushed back three hours by more rain, the Gators' spirits were never dampened.

“Often times when you get cancelled on Friday night and then the game gets pushed back, players can tend to lose concentration and focus,” coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “But I thought we were focused for 18 innings, and that's what you need to do against a team like LSU.”

Justin Shafer's clutch two-out, solo home run in the bottom of the ninth — his first of the season – off LSU ace Aaron Nola was the difference in the opener, and Taylor Gushue's three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth capped the scoring in the nightcap for the Gators (18-9, 5-3 SEC), who have now won 12 of their last 15 games.

“It feels great,” Shafer said. “Obviously Nola is a great pitcher. I just tried to put a good swing on the ball.”

Solo homers by LSU's Kade Scivicque in the first and UF's Casey Turgeon in the third accounted for the other runs.

UF starter Eric Hanhold threw a career-high 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball, scattering seven hits, and Danny Young and Aaron Rhodes closed it out with 1 2/3 innings of hitless relief.

Rhodes (3-1) picked up the win, while Nola (5-1), who went the distance for the Tigers (20-7-1, 3-4-1), was tagged with his first loss of the year.

In game two, Florida broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the fifth, then extended the lead to 6-0 on Gushue's three-run blast an inning later that chased LSU freshman starter and loser Jared Poche (5-2).

That was more than enough for UF freshman starter Logan Shore (2-1), who threw a career-high 8 2/3 innings to earn the win, holding the Tigers scoreless on one hit through seven innings before they got to him for a couple of late runs.

Bobby Poyner came on to record the last out and seal the sweep and the series.

The teams will meet in the series finale today at 1 p.m.

“Obviously we're pleased, but Sunday's another day,” O'Sullivan said. “We've got to be ready to play.”

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