Steven Branscombe / USA TODAY Sports

Gators fall to LSU 5-3 in 14 innings

In the longest game in SEC Tournament history, the Florida Gators fell short to the LSU Tigers 5-3.  With the loss, Florida will now take on Alabama in the elimination round and likely less than 12 hours from the conclusion of this game.

Florida got off to a promising start on offense. Doubles by freshman Jonathan India and sophomore J.J. Schwarz along with a triple from junior Buddy Reed in the bottom of the first saw the Gators get out to a quick 2-0 lead. However, the Gators left bases loaded in the inning and what could have been a much bigger stanza wasn’t.

Pitchers on both sides were dominant, Florida junior starter A.J. Puk was pretty much untouched through seven innings before getting into a bit of trouble in the eighth. He would end up surrendering two earned runs, although the second was a controversial call at home plate where television replays showed Jake Fraley was out at home plate from a tag by catcher Mike Rivera. Fraley was called safe and the game was tied instead of ending the inning with LSU trailing. The tigers would plate one more in the inning and take a 3-2 lead.

Shaun Anderson would relieve Puk in the eighth and would throw 1.2 innings giving up that final run of the eighth.

Meanwhile, LSU’s Alex Lange had the tough first inning, but settled down dramatically and put the Gator bats on lockdown for six straight innings. After throwing seven innings of great baseball and 110 pitches, Lange was replaced by Hunter Newman to start the eighth inning. He shut down the side in the eighth, before the Gators would strike again in the bottom of the ninth.

In the ninth inning, Reed doubled off of Newman, Rivera would sacrifice Reed to third with a well-placed bunt, and two batters later freshman Deacon Liput would single Reed home to tie the game at three.

That would be the last runs for Florida with five more innings to play.

Florida had the chance to end the game with a win in the eleventh inning. The Gators had no outs and bases loaded, but LSU pitcher Jesse Stallings and the LSU defense were able to manipulate three outs, including an inning killing double play at third to keep the Gators from crossing him plate.

With 4.1 brilliant innings from Gator right hander Dane Dunning, LSU would plate a run with a couple of throwing errors in the last inning. Kirby Snead would replace Dunning and give up an RBVI single for the deciding 5-3 final score.

Gator bats were the demise of the team again managing just six hits and one run in the last 13 innings of play. Florida is missing their top hitter in junior peter Alonso, but he isn’t expected back until possibly the NCAA Tournament Regional over a week from now.

The long 5 hour and 7 minute contest was the longest in SEC Tournament history and the gators will have to turn around and likely play less than 12 hours from the conclusion of Wednesday night’s game as they take on Alabama in the elimination round of the tournament. The two teams will meet 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game of the day which starts at 10:30 a.m. ET. Florida is expected to roll out Logan Shore to start the contest Thursday versus Alabama. 

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