Gators Salvage Game Three at LSU

Nick Maronde pitched five strong innings and Matt den Dekker had three hits and drove in three runs leading the Gator baseball team to a 9-3 win over LSU in the final game of a three-game set in Baton Rouge.

Florida never led in the first two games of the weekend, but they changed that in the third inning when Brandon McArthur singled in one run and Pigott added a two-run single for a 3-0 lead. LSU answered with a solo homer in the fourth inning and each team scored in the fifth making it a 4-2 ballgame. Florida Coach Kevin O'Sullivan, said during his post-game radio show that grabbing the lead early was huge.

"This was one of those games where we had to reach deep down and make some adjustments. We spoke about how all of our goals as a team are still ahead of us. We needed to jump out and get a lead and we did that."

The Gators grabbed command of the game with three in the seventh, two of them coming on a single by den Dekker and added two more in the eighth. Four Gator relievers made it stand up with closer Billy Bullock pitching the ninth inning to wrap up the win. Maronde picked up his third win of the season and his first in SEC play. He allowed just three hits and two runs in his five innings of work and struck out nine LSU batters. O'Sullivan was obviously pleased with his freshman lefty.

"We needed to get a good start and I think Nick did a helluva job for us. He hung in there with this team and battled and made pitches when he needed to. We used our bullpen like we knew we needed to and everybody stepped up and did his job."

The Gators improve to 35-17 on the year, but more importantly 17-10 in the SEC. LSU drops to 18-9 in league play, but thanks to the wins on Friday and Saturday the Tigers lead the Gators by one game in the SEC race. Florida will wrap up the season with a three-game set at home against Kentucky while LSU faces Mississippi State in Starkville. Both Kentucky and Mississippi State are among the bottom four in the SEC and neither team is expected to make the SEC Tournament.

Because it's the final weekend of the regular season the games with Kentucky will begin on Thursday evening instead of the normal Friday series opener. The Gators also have a Tuesday game with Jacksonville.

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