Gators drop series at LSU

The Gators knew they were in for a challenge on Friday night when facing one of the best pitchers in the country in his home ballpark. It ended up being too much. LSU sophomore right-hander Aaron Nola threw his fourth straight complete game when he shut out the Gators on Friday in Baton Rouge. The Tigers clinched the series with a 5-0 win over Florida.

The reputation of Aaron Nola is well known throughout the country. The Gators missed him last season because of arm trouble when the Tigers came to Gainesville, but on Friday in Alex Box Stadium, the Florida offense got a good look at the hype.

Nola tossed his complete game on 111 pitches, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out three hitters.

"Aaron Nola pitched great," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said on his post game radio show on Friday. "He moved the ball back and forth and pitched on both sides of the plate. He threw all three pitches for strikes. He was as good as advertised."

The Gators didn't have the arms to match Nola. Florida threw ace Jonathon Crawford in Thursday's series opener and lost, so O'Sullivan and his staff tried to piece Friday's game together. Sophomore left-hander Bobby Poyner got the start and gave up three runs in 4.1 innings while allowing four hits and two walks on 56 pitches.

The Florida bullpen -- Aaron Rhodes, Parker Danciu and Mike Vinson -- tossed 3.2 innings to end the game, only allowing two unearned runs in the eighth inning that gave the Tigers a cushion.

"I thought we threw the ball pretty good tonight," O'Sullivan said. "Bobby got us into the fifth inning. Aaron Rhodes did a nice job, Parker (Danciu) did his thing and Mike (Vinson) threw the ball well."

The Florida offense was limited to two scoring opportunities.

The second inning started with a pitch hitting Josh Tobias and Harrison Bader reaching on an infield single. Cody Dent's sacrifice bunt didn't work, as LSU got the out at third base. After a double steal to force the action, Richie Martin lined out to shortstop and Casey Turgeon grounded out to end the threat.

The Gators started the seventh inning with back-to-back singles by Justin Shafer and Zack Powers, but Vickash Ramjit lined into a double play to follow those at-bats.

"We had first and second with nobody out twice and were not able to push a run across," O'Sullivan said. "We put ourselves in situations with opportunities to score but didn't follow them up with good at-bats and couldn't push any runs across. Against really good pitchers, you get one or two opportunities, but we just couldn't finish it up."

Despite just four hits, O'Sullivan liked the way his team swung the bats. He saw an aggressive group that tried to take advantage of mistakes. There just weren't many of them to choose from.

"The hit total doesn't tell the whole story," O'Sullivan said. "I thought we hit some balls hard tonight. I know the box score says four hits, but we had better at-bats tonight. I was okay with our at-bats tonight. We were facing one of the best guys in the country and we hit the ball hard."

The Gators now have to salvage game three of the series. LSU will start right-hander Ryan Eades (7-1, 2.30) against the Gators, who haven't announced a starting pitcher. Eades has allowed 72 hits in 70.1 innings while walking 19 and striking out 62. He has allowed just one home run all season.

"We've got to come out and learn from our mistakes," O'Sullivan said. "The team knows what's in front of them. I'm confident we'll come out well and play."

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