On Thursday night, LSU took game one in their three game series against the number one team in the country. I say took because Florida had every opportunity to win the game and maybe should have won it, but poor mental errors hurt there chances.
LSU opened the game red-hot from the plate. Jacoby Jones led the game off with a double, setting the tone all game long from the plate. Jones finished the game three of four from the plate with two doubles. Jones drove in two and scored twice. The Tigers finished the first with three runs on the board.
Florida would rally in the bottom of the second to close the lead to 3-2, but a lot of questions were asked after the second run scored. Vickash Ramjit, who might be the hottest Gator hitter right now, hit a RBI double to score the first run for Florida. Ramjit finished the game three of four with two doubles and four RBIs. The play in question happened on the next at bat. With one outs and runners at the corner, Cody Dent hit a long fly ball into the right-center gap. Mason Katz made an incredible diving catch, and was able to double off Ramjit trying to tap up from first. However at the same time, Taylor Gushue tagged from third base and the umpire said he crossed the plate before the Ramjit was out at second, but after ESPN showed the replay is was a close call. After the Friday night game at Auburn I wrote about why we do not have some kind of instant replay in college baseball. Here would have been a perfect scenario for the umps to take another look at a play to make sure they got it right. Base upon the final score and just how close the game was, this run might have been the difference in who wins this series.
Fortunately for LSU the run did not cost them the game, but it was close. The Tigers would add three more runs in the fourth to extend the lead to 6-2. Jones accounted for all three runs (2 RBI, run), but after this inning the LSU offense fizzled out. LSU only had one hit from the fifth to the seventh inning. During that stretch Florida closed the lead to 6-4.
The eight inning is when things started to get interesting. Alex Edwards started off the inning with a double and would later score off a Jordan Snickeris fly out. Snickeris, who replaced Ty Ross due to a suspension, show the LSU coaches that maybe he deserved a little more playing time. Snickeris was two of three with a RBI and scored a run. Florida’s offense scored two runs in the bottom on the inning, and the LSU defense gave them some support. When all the dust settled in the eighth inning, LSU led 7-6.
LSU could not reach base as Florida’s closer Austin Maddox forced three infield pop-ups. LSU sent Nick Goody to the mound to earn the save, that sentence alone sounds like something bad would happen, and it nearly did. Daniel Pigott started the inning off with a single. Then Casey Turgeon reached base on a bunt due to Grant Dozar not being able to field the throw at first. Pigott would advance all the way to third to set up runners on the corner with no outs. Goody would strike out the next batter Mike Zunino with three heaters right down the middle (serious onions by Goody to do that).
Then Preston Tucker stepped up to the plate. I think anyone watching the game had already assumed that Goody would leave a ball high in the zone for Preston to launch into the outfield; I was just hoping it would be a fly out. I was amazed when this actually happened. Preston launched a bomb to the right field fence that Mason Katz was able to camp under. This is where it really turned exciting if you are a Tiger fan. After the catch, Katz threw the ball into second to hold the runner at first, while the ball was traveling into the infield you realized that the runner on third base did not tag up to score. Instead he and the third base coach looked like they thought it was a home run and starter trotting towards home plate, and by the time they realized it was an out it was too late to tag. I would not like to be either one of those guys in the Florida locker room after the game.
The next batter would pop-up to the catcher and the game was over. The win give LSU a huge advantage in the pitching department for the rest of the weekend. Kurt McCune wasn’t great on Thursday, but he was good enough. McCune pitched five complete innings, allowed seven hits and two earned runs. He didn’t record any strikeouts, but he didn’t walk any one. More importantly the bullpen only needed to throw three innings, allowing them to stay fresh if needed.
The win improves the Tigers to 24-9 on the season and 7-3 in SEC play. LSU will have a chance to win the series Friday night at 6:00pm. The game will be televised on Fox sports.