BATON ROUGE, La. — No. 7 Florida, the preseason favorite to win its fifth consecutive SEC regular-season title, lost back-to-back series to open conference play when No. 9 LSU rallied for a 3-2 win Monday.
The Gators (24-6 overall) dropped to 2-4 in the SEC, with as many losses in two series as the entire season a year ago (20-4). UF lost two of three last weekend to Tennessee. LSU improved to 4-2 in the SEC and 24-7 overall.
Amanda Sanchez hit a RBI double in the bottom of the seventh inning for the walk-off win for the Tigers, who routed the Gators 8-0 Sunday after losing Saturday 4-3.
Florida jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a Amanda Lorenz double and Kendyl Lindaman’s home run. Lindaman had hit a grand slam to help win Saturday’s game.
Ace Kelly Barnhill (15-3) couldn’t hold the lead, allowing back-to-back walks and a RBI single by Shelbie Sunseri to make it 2-1 in the third.
LSU tied it in the sixth when a walk, a single and a fielding error evened the score at 2-2.
A double play turned by LSU in the top of the seventh prevented UF from regaining the lead and set the stage for Sanchez’s dramatics.
Shelby Wickersham (8-1) allowed only three hits the rest of the way after giving up the two runs in the first.
Florida returns home to play Minnesota at 7 p.m. Wednesday before a two-game weekend series against Mercer.
Baseball: Florida’s Kendrick Calilao is the SEC Freshman of the Week. Calilao, a native of Kissimmee, continues to lead the team in producing runs with a team-best seven RBI last week in games against Florida State and Mississippi State. For the second time this year, he had six RBI in a single game — totaling six against No. 10 Florida State in a 20-7 Gator win last Tuesday. Calilao also hit his second grand slam of the season.
Calilao leads the team with 26 RBI and is second with a .342 batting average.
Florida wraps up its 14-game homestand with a 6 p.m. game today against Jacksonville. The Gators will travel to Nashville for a three-game series at Vanderbilt beginning Thursday.
Gymnastics: No. 4 Florida heads to New Orleans as the Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Championships makes its first appearance in the Big Easy at Smoothie King Center. The Gators will compete in Session II (ESPN2 at 8 p.m.), with LSU, Georgia and Kentucky. Session I (SEC Network at 4 p.m.) has Alabama, Auburn, Missouri and Arkansas.
Lacrosse: No. 16 Florida (3-5) plays host to No. 9 Princeton (4-1) for a 7 p.m. match today to close out a three-game home stand.
Men’s tennis: At Knoxville, Florida earned a 5-2 win over Tennessee to complete the weekend sweep of SEC opponents. The Gators have extended their winning streak to a season-best six matches and remain in SEC play. Florida has not started conference play 5-0 since 2010. In 2010, it started 7-0 en route to a second-place finish in the SEC. UF defeated Georgia on Friday.
After dropping the doubles point, the Gators responded by taking four of six first sets against the Volunteers in singles. Duarte Vale evened the match as he claimed a 6-4, 6-1 decision against Martim Prata on court six. Florida went to 2-1 when Sam Riffice earned a straight-set 6-3, 6-4 win against the Vols’ Scott Jones.
Tennessee (11-5, 2-3 SEC) tied the match and earned its lone singles win of the afternoon when Adam Walton defeated Andy Andrade in two sets. Moments later, Oliver Crawford regained the lead for the Gators with a 6-2, 7-5 triumph over Timo Stodder.
Fighting for match point, Lukas Greif and Johannes Ingildsen were in the middle of tight three-set matches. Greif took an exciting 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 match-clinching win over Luca Wiedenmann. A few seconds after the clinch, Ingildsen sealed the final score with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win over Preston Touliatos.
Florida (12-2 overall) returns home to host Illinois and Vanderbilt on Wednesday and Thursday for 5 p.m. matches.
Women’s tennis: At Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex, Florida defeated Tennessee 4-2. The Vols fell to 12-5 overall and 2-3 in the SEC.
After dropping the doubles point, the Gators (7-6 overall, 4-2 SEC) did their damage in singles with wins by Ida Jarlskog, McCartney Kessler, Victoria Emma and Marlee Zein.
The Gators return to the courts on Friday in Lexington, Ky.
The holes in the Gator softball team are really showing up after that 18-0 start. The strategy of taking so many called strikes during almost every at bat , as with the last couple of seasons, has the girls again struggling to score runs. After being shut out on Sunday, it looked promising last night when 2 of their first 4 batters scored courtesy of a double and a home run. The remaining 6 innings produced no more runs leading to a 3-2 loss. Another concern has to be Kelly Barnhill, as she has not been as dominant as she has in past seasons. I know that is saying a lot considering the bar she set has been so high with her record as one of the very best pitchers in all of college softball. Just from what I’ve seen and read, she is giving up more walks and home runs than at any point I can recall. It may be that she is feeling the pressure of having to be near perfect to keep her team in the games. Let’s hope they get the turned around before it’s too late.
The homer call where the LSU player was clearly out at first in the bottom of the 6th is why we lost this game. It’s bad enough when an error gives a tough team an extra out, but when the ump does it, it is even more difficult to overcome. LSU doesn’t score if the call was made correctly and we likely would win the game 2 – 1.