LSU sends Florida home after 10-hour delay, 11-0

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Umpire Scott Cline talks with Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan as fog stops play during the sixth inning of the Southeastern Conference tournament game against LSU on Friday in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Special to Gatorsports.com

HOOVER, Ala. — Saturday’s resumption of game action didn’t take long, but, boy, that weather delay was a doozy.

No. 8 seed LSU eliminated top-seeded Florida from the SEC baseball tournament with an 11-0 win in seven innings Saturday morning in a game that started at 10 p.m. ET Friday, then suspended because of fog at 12:55 a.m.

Action began at about 11:03 a.m. Saturday, a delay of 10 hours and three minutes, with LSU leading 10-0 with runners at second and third and two outs. UF had Kirby McMullen on the mound. The Tigers then scored another run on an infield single by Zach Watson.

In total in the sixth, LSU scored eight runs on five hits, two UF errors, two wild pitches, a balk and a passed ball.

After a single by Deacon Liput to open the UF top of the seventh, LSU pitcher Devin Fontenot struck out pinch-hitter Brady McConnell, Jonathan India and Wil Dalton to invoke the run rule.

“The bottom line is, it’s a clean slate for everybody next weekend,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Everybody goes through a tough stretch during the season. It just happened to us after we won the SEC regular season.

“We’re going to go home and have a really good week of practice. We’ll work with some guys individually, try to get them back on track and get ready for a regional next weekend.”

Tigers starter Matthew Beck (3-1) tossed four shutout innings, allowing three hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Reliever Cam Sanders retired six of the seven batters he faced while recording four strikeouts on Friday night.

LSU went on to defeat No. 4 seed Arkansas (39-18) in the semifinal Saturday night, 2-1. No. 2 seed Ole Miss defeated No. 11 seed Texas A&M (39-20) in the other semifinal, 2-1. LSU (37-24) will meet Ole Miss (45-15) for the tournament title at 3 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2).

For, Florida (42-17), which had a full practice earlier in the morning at Hoover High, it was the second consecutive year it was run-ruled out of the tournament after entering as the SEC regular-season champions. Last year, Arkansas did the honors with a 16-0 decision on semifinal Saturday. The Gators bounced back to win their first national championship.

The Gators, losers of six of their last seven games, will find out their regional bracket in Monday’s NCAA selection show at noon on ESPNU. Regional hosts will be announced Sunday night.

“The big picture is we won the regular season title, we’ll be a top eight national seed again,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve just got to get a couple guys going and get a couple guys back that have been banged up a little bit. Bottom line is we’ll play at home again next weekend and we’re looking forward to getting back on the field on Friday.”

LSU built a big lead before the fog arrived Friday. In the bottom of the third, LSU right fielder Antoine Duplantis drilled a double to score Jake Slaughter, who had doubled, for the first run of the game. Austin Bain reached on a throwing error by India, sending Beau Jordan, who reached after a hit-by-pitch, and Duplantis racing home to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.

Florida had chances to score runs and even take a lead, but squandered opportunities with five runners in scoring position through the first four innings.

Freshman pitcher Jack Leftwich (4-5) took the loss despite allowing only two hits and one earned run through five innings.

LSU capitalized on Florida’s mistakes in the sixth to increase its lead. Daniel Cabrera scored when Watson advanced to second on a wild pitch. Watson then crossed the plate after Hunter Feduccia advanced to second on a passed ball. Feduccia also came home when Slaughter reached on a throwing error. A two-run single by Duplantis and two-run double by Cabrera made it 10-0.

After Florida fielders couldn’t spot Cabrera’s bloop hit to left field that scored the two runs, umpires stopped the game to discuss the situation with SEC officials, including commissioner Greg Sankey. It was suspended at 12:55 a.m.

“The best thing about today was Brady Singer threw a pen and looked great, he looks healthy,” O’Sullivan said Saturday. “The same goes for Tyler Dyson. He threw outstanding in the bullpen. That’s certainly a bright spot for us and we look forward to getting those guys back out there next weekend.

“We’ll see what happens with JJ (Schwarz, who has a broken hand). I know he’s feeling better. If we can get healthy this week and get those guys back, obviously we’ll get back to where we were before the Mississippi State series.”

16 COMMENTS

  1. I guess you really can’t just say “Hey, we won the SEC Regular Season. We’d really just prefer to take a weekend off”, although that seems to be the pattern. Have to show up physically, at least, to get eliminated out. I won’t second guess Sully. Those weather delays really messed up a nice relaxing weekend for the team, though.

  2. This does not bode well for the NCAA tournament. Mailed it in since ensuring a share of the regular season title. A pathetic performance by the most lauded team in the country. Weather a factor? Sure but every team in Hoover played on the same field. Can’t handle playing on a jumbled schedule? Glad we ain’t depending on them in the military. Get it together, Gators. You can still go a long way, if you want to. Wonder how the speak no evil crowd will play this?

  3. In baseball and softball, the opposing pitchers are throwing first pitch fat strikes and the Gators are “looking” 90% of the time. They need to be coached up and get more aggressive.

  4. I know the Gators have been beaten soundly the last two SEC tourneys, but this tournament is a hassle and emotional downer for the reg. season front runner, except for getting bench warmers and midweek pitchers experience. I wonder if Sully sees it as sort like playing UCF and J’ville?

  5. Thank God for the Lady Gator’s softball team!! “THEY” will most likely make us proud at the CWS…………serious doubts about the Baseball Team, Pray I am wrong! Best of luck to both, and very proud of both of them for their regular season records, very impressive, and obviously well coached.

  6. I think we see a completely different team(like the team that breezed through the SEC) in the tourney. They mailed this in.
    These conf. championship tourneys are, if you go all out to win it, hard on a pitching staff, maybe on everyone, playing sometimes at 1 in the a.m., etc. Sully doesn’t care about them, it’s obvious from who he pitches, etc. He recently said, in fact, that there are only two rings given out, one for regular season SEC champ, one for national champ. I just think UF needs to refocus, and I believe we will.
    Conf. basketball tourneys are the same, btw., 4 games in 4 days, or 5 in 5, if you keep winning. At no other time in the season or postseason do you play that often.

  7. This tournament is a joke. I don’t like the Gators losing 6 of 7 but the 1-2 record at this tournament does not matter at all. When you are playing games at 9 am and 11:30 pm in the rain and fog, it’s a joke. Every game runs long and so teams are left sitting around and stuck in Hoover, AL. The Gators did not play well against Mississippi State and that is concerning but the SEC tournament is meaningless.