Hoover, AL – For the first time since the 2014 SEC Tournament championship game, fourth-seeded Florida (43-16) and top-seed LSU (48-11) faced each other on the diamond Saturday evening at Hoover Met. This time, the two teams were dueling for a spot in the 2015 SEC Tournament championship game but Florida would come ahead with a homer in the ninth to win 2-1.
The second SEC Tournament semifinal was not without action. Both teams displayed great defense. LSU’s RHP Alex Lange, the SEC Freshman of the Year, pitched 7 shutout innings and struck out 7.
Florida looked to take an early lead after a walk and hit by pitch loaded the bases in the top first. But with two outs already on board, JJ Schwarz’s pop fly to left field would get the Tigers out of the jam.
Harrison Bader in the bottom first robbed Jake Fraley of a hit after a great diving stop. Check out the catch here:
Tigers were able to take charge in the second from a leadoff double by Kade Scivicque. Jared Foster gave LSU the first run of the game with the 2 out RBI single to left field to score in Scivicque to make it 1-0 Tigers.
In the third, a leadoff throwing error by Richie Martin placed Fraley at first base. The Gators fixed their wrong with a pick off by Alex Faedo to get Fraley for the second out. LHP Kirby Snead was later called to the mound to replace Faedo (2.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R) and left two Tigers stranded striking out Stevenson.
A 2-out walk on Rivera created a bases loaded situation for the Tigers in the fourth. However, at next bat, Lange would strike out Guthrie swinging leaving three Gators left on base for the second time.
Seventh inning, after a single and walk would put runners on first and second, Florida was unable to score in a run after back-to-back K’s on Buddy Reed and Martin ended the top inning.
The Gators were able to get momentum going late in the game, after Schwarz hit into a rare 7-6-2-5-9 RBI double play that would score in Josh Tobias and tie the game at 1.
First at bat in the ninth, Rivera would smoke a homerun off Jesse Stallings to left field to push UF ahead of LSU, 2-1.
A 1-2-3 inning by RHP Taylor Lewis (4.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R ) in the bottom ninth sealed the Tigers’ fate. Florida eliminated LSU 2-1.
Florida moves on to the SEC Tournament Championship and will face second-seeded Vanderbilt (42-18) on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
- Head coach Kevin O’Sullivanimproved to 5-1 in his career against the nation’s top-ranked team.
- The Gators advanced to the SEC Tournament Championship round for the second year in a row and for the 13th time in school history.
- UF has won six tournament titles and been the runner-up six times.
- Florida improved to 9-4 in one-run games with the win and had been 2-14 this season when trailing after seven innings.
- The Gators were meeting the Tigers in Hoover for the second year in a row, as the Bayou Bengals notched a 2-0 victory in the SEC Tournament title game last year.
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan
“It was a heck of a ballgame. We battled all the way until the end. It was a great environment. Our kids hung in there. Alex Lange is as good as advertised. He made pitches all day long. We hung in there. Our relief pitching was really good. We started a freshman on the mound and it was a great experience for him. I think we had four freshmen in the starting lineup, and it was a great experience for these guys. To win a game like that it should help us moving forward with our confidence and dealing with some adversity. LSU is a great ballclub and there is a reason they are the No. 1 team in the country. It was a great ballgame all the way around by both clubs.”
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports