***Special courtesy from Florida Athletics for the below story***
BATON ROUGE, La. – In a back-and-forth game on Friday night, LSU scraped a run across in the bottom of the eighth and held on to win 5-4 at Alex Box Stadium. LSU (38-16, 18-10 SEC) took advantage of some uncharacteristic errors by the Florida (43-10, 18-9 SEC) defense and an illness from starter A.J. Puk to claim the victory.
Puk exited the game in the third inning with a stomach illness and Florida was forced to use six pitchers in the contest. Despite three errors and the high number of pitching changes, the Gators battled and were tied in the eighth inning before Kramer Robertson blooped a single to left to bring home the winning run.
The Gators got on the board first with a pair of hits in the second inning. Jeremy Vasquez singled to right with two outs, then Dalton Guthrie laid down a perfect bunt for an infield single. The throw on Guthrie's bunt got away from the first baseman and allowed Vasquez to come all the way around to score from first.
In the bottom of the third inning LSU took advantage of a leadoff walk to tie the game. Starter A.J. Puk walked LSU's Cole Freeman to start the inning and then was forced to exit with what appeared to be an illness. Dane Dunning entered after an abbreviated warmup and surrendered a pair of singles that allowed the Tigers to tie the game. Dunning escaped the jam with the game tied 1-1.
The Tigers took a lead in the fifth behind a pair of singles. Antoine Duplantis led off with a single and moved to second on Jake Fraley's single. A fielder's choice put runners on the corners with one out and Jordan Romero hit a RBI grounder to give LSU a 2-1 lead.
Florida responded immediately, as Mike Rivera launched his ninth home run of the season to tie the game at two. The lead didn't last long, however, as LSU had a pair of two-out hits to plate a run. Greg Deichmann singled to right with two down, then Cole Freeman doubled into the left field corner to score Deichmann for a 3-2 lead. Freeman advanced to third on an overthrown ball to the plate.
After the double, the Gators went to the bullpen and brought in left-hander Kirby Snead to face the left-handed leadoff man Duplantis. LSU added to its lead when Duplantis beat out an infield single and Freeman came in to score to give the Tigers a 4-2 lead.
UF battled back again in the seventh with a pair of hits. Jonathan India singled to right field then Buddy Reed drew a two-out walk. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Nelson Maldonado's RBI single to right brought them home to tie the game at four.
LSU jumped back in front in the eighth. Freeman reached base via an error, the Gators third of the night, and Duplantis singled to give the Tigers a pair of runners. Robertson's two-out single to left field scored Freeman from second for a 5-4 lead.