One was enough.
On a night when two of the SEC’s best starting pitchers played their roles very well, Florida managed to scratch out a single run and that was enough for a 1-0 victory against No. 5-ranked LSU.
Tigers’ starter Alex Lange bounced back with a dominant 8-inning complete-game performance, limiting the Gators to six hits. But Florida’s Alex Faedo was a just a tad better in his 7 innings and the Gators’ bullpen weathered two late-game walks to shut LSU out for the first time this season.
Although the Tigers (17-6, 3-1 SEC) put runners on base in seven innings, they were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position with 8 strikeouts in those instances. All nine runners who reached base were left stranded.
Faedo gave up singles in six of the 7 innings he worked, but only to batters to start an at-bat. LSU produced consecutive hits only once – in the 7th – and Faedo survived that threat when he struck out Brennan Breaux and coaxed Mike Papierski into a routine fly ball to center field.
The Gators (15-8, 1-3) weren’t a whole lot more dynamic with the bats against Lange, whose last outing was one of the worst of his career.
This time, the big right-hander was razor-sharp most of the night.
Lange (3-2) retired 10 of the first 12 Florida batters before Nelson Maldonado and Mike Rivera punched back-to-back singles to start the 5th inning. Christian Hicks laid down a bunt to move the runners and was successful and then some when Lange’s throw to first got away from Cole Freeman to load the bases with no outs.
Unfazed, Lange went right at Ryan Larson and Nick Horvath, striking both out, and then wiggled off the hook when Dalton Guthrie’s line drive nestled into Freeman’s glove for the third out.
The Tigers and Lange couldn’t completely escape trouble the following inning.
Deacon Liput rammed a full-count Lange offering to right field and hustled the hit into a leadoff double. Jonathan India pushed him to third base with a bunt and J.J. Schwarz rocketed a fly ball to deep left field for a sacrifice fly to end the scoreless standoff.
That was it, though. Lange allowed only one more hit and got a huge assist when right fielder Greg Deichmann stretched out full body to snare a sinking liner off of Schwarz’s bat with two on and two out in the Gators’ 8th.
LSU quickly posed a threat to tie the game when Josh Smith worked a leadoff walk in the 9th inning and scooted to second base on a wild pitch. Florida freshman reliever Tyler Dyson slammed the door, utilizing a strike zone that appeared to change at times within the inning, to strike out Zach Watson and Jake Slaughter looking and Brennan Breaux swinging.
The series resumes at 2 p.m. Saturday when Jared Poche gets the ball and looks for his 6th win in six starts. The Gators will counter with sophomore right-hander Brady Singer (2-1, 1.74 ERA).