BATON ROUGE. – The No. 25 Florida Gators grabbed an early lead and went on to take Game 1 from the No. 10 LSU baseball team, 16-9, Thursday night in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
Florida improves to 26-14 overall and 7-9 in the SEC while LSU falls to 24-15 and 9-7 in league play
Game 2 of the series between LSU and Florida is slated for a 7 p.m. CT start in The Box. It will be televised on the SEC Network. Fans can listen to the game on the LSU Sports Radio Network, including 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge. Live audio can also be found online at LSUsports.net/live.
Florida starter Tommy Mace improved to 7-3 on the year after throwing seven innings. The right-hander allowed four runs on 10 hits, walked nine and struck out two.
Ma’Khail Hilliard suffered the loss and fell to 0-2 on the year after allowing six runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out three in two innings.
“In my time here at LSU, I don’t remember having more than handful of these kind of games,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Our pitching wasn’t at the efficient level it needed to be, and we dug ourselves a big hole early in the game. Unfortunately, the game got of hand, but we fought back to get 16 hits and score nine runs. We just got off to a bad start, Florida was putting the bat on the ball, and they just got to us.
“The best thing we can do is flush it and forget about it, and get ready for Game 2 on Friday.”
With the bases loaded to begin the top of the second after a walk and two base hits, center fielder Jud Fabian hit a sac fly to left field before catcher Brady Smith hit a two-RBI double to center field. Left fielder Austin Langworthy singled to right field with two outs to bring in Smith, and a double to left field by designated hitter Jordan Butler put runners in scoring position. Butler and Langworthy scored on a double by first baseman Kendrick Calilao to give Florida the 6-0 lead.
In the top of the third, Wil Dalton advanced to third on a bunt single after leading off the inning with a double to right field. The right fielder scored on Smith’s single up the middle to extend the Florida lead to 7-0.
Third baseman Cory Acton and shortstop Brady McConnell hit three-run home runs in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively to propel the Gators to the 13-0 advantage.
Shortstop Josh Smith led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a single up the middle, and with one out center fielder Antoine Duplantis and third baseman Drew Bianco stroked base hits to load the bases. With two outs, first baseman Cade Beloso slapped a single up the middle to bring in Smith and Duplantis, cutting the Florida lead to 13-2.
Florida tacked on a run in the top of the sixth to make it a 14-2 game. Second baseman Jacob Young scored after working a one-out walk on a single up the middle by Christian Flint.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Bianco was hit by a pitch, and left fielder Daniel Cabrera drove him home when he stroked a triple to right field, his second of the season. Cabrera score on a RBI ground out by Beloso to cut the Gators’ lead to 14-4.
Florida’s Smith hit a solo home run with two outs in the top of the eighth to make it a 15-4 game.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, catcher Saul Garza hit his first career home run, a solo shot to right-center. After Smith singled and advanced to second, Duplantis ripped his fourth hit of the night, a RBI single to left-center to cut Florida’s lead to 15-6.
Langworthy hit a solo home run to right-center to make it a 10-run game in the top of the ninth.
LSU did not go down quietly in the ninth. Cabrera led off the inning with a single, and the Tigers had runners in scoring position after Beloso doubled to right field. Second baseman Brandt Broussard tripled to the right field corner to drive in both runs and then scored on a ground ball by right fielder Giovanni DiGiacomo.