Gators Sweep LSU in Style

The last time the Gator baseball team swept a three game series from LSU, Jeremy Foley was trying to convince Billy Donovan to take over the Gator basketball program, Urban Meyer was the new wide receivers coach at Notre Dame and Florida freshman catcher Mike Zunino was one day away from his fifth birthday.

Fourteen years later, Florida again can celebrate sending the defending NCAA champion Tigers back to the Bayou with a trip of setbacks after a decisive 13-6 win at McKethan Stadium Sunday afternoon. The Gators (31-11, 15-6) moved 20 games over .500 while the Tigers (32-12, 11-10) were swept for the second straight weekend.

Looking to end a seven-game SEC road losing streak, LSU coach Paul Mainieri decided to start closer Matty Ott to see if it would change the Tigers' luck away from home. It didn't. Ott's first career start -- after 57 consecutive relief appearances -- was in trouble from the get go.

Nolan Fontana led off the bottom of the first inning with a double to right centerfield and Matt den Dekker followed with a long two-run HR to give the Gators an early lead. It didn't take long for the Gators to make the decision to start Ott look even worse. With two out in the third inning den Dekker singled and Preston Tucker walker. Florida freshman Austin Maddox then crushed a three run HR to centerfield to make it 5-0. It was Maddox's team leading 13th HR of the year and gives him 50 RBI on the season.

LSU got on the board in the top of the fourth with consecutive two out doubles off Gator lefty Brian Johnson, but Florida's freshman would soon get even. In the bottom of the inning Florida answered the LSU score with an RBI single by den Dekker that made it 6-1. After another Tucker walk Maddox was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Johnson, the pitcher/DH blasted a grand slam to put the Gators up 10-1.

LSU tried to make it interesting with single runs in the sixth and seventh followed by a three-run eighth to make it 10-6. But the Gators answered right back on another RBI single from den Dekker, his fifth hit of the game and fourth RBI. Florida added an RBI double by Tucker and a sac fly by Bryson Smith to drive in the final run of the contest.

Johnson picked up his fourth win of the season, tossing 6.1 innings and holding the Tigers to a pair of earned runs. He lowered his ERA slightly to 2.90, which is the best among the Gator starters. His grand slam was his second HR of the season, and his 2-for-4 day at the plate raised his batting average to .387.

Den Dekker's 5-for-5 game raised his average to .356 on the campaign. His HR was his seventh of the season.

Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan talked about the win and the weekend on the post-game show on Rock-104 and the IMG Gator Radio Network.


On getting the sweep of LSU:

"I'm glad we came out ready to play. A lot of teams would have been satisfied winning the first two. We played really well and got out early with five runs in the first three innings and Brian Johnson settled in and gave us a really good start. It was just an outstanding weekend altogether."

On getting to surprising starter Matty Ott early:

"I'm sure Matty Ott wishes he had back the 0-2 pitch (to den Dekker) because he's a really good pitcher. We were concerned when we found out he was starting because he really has the ability to shut down anybody he pitches against. Matt got a good pitch to hit with two strikes and gave us a jump start there in the first and Nolan's (Fontana) at bat kind of set the tone."

On the performance of Brian Johnson pitching and hitting:

"We recruited him as a two way player and we knew he was going to swing the bat. As I've said all along we just wanted to kind of get his feet wet on the mound and get him going that way first. He's been a huge part of our offense for the last couple of weeks and obviously came up with a big home run today."

On the energy and excitement in the Gator dugout:

"We're playing really well right now and obviously the guys are having a lot of fun. That's what happens when you win. When you start winning games you start having a lot of fun."


The Gators have a Tuesday game with Bethune-Cookman before hitting the road for a series at Alabama. There are three SEC weekends left on the schedule and the Gators control their destiny as they try to win the SEC Championship.

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