“We just weren’t putting good (at-bats) together,” Florida shortstop Nolan Fontana said. “We’d have one scattered here and there, and we couldn’t put anything together. It was a big part of why we weren’t successful later in the game.”
After the first three innings, the Florida offense totaled just one hit and one walk in the final six innings. Approaches changed and swings got too big. Instead of trying to hit the ball to the opposite field against LSU lefty reliever Brent Bonvillain, the Gators swings struggled to adjust.
“I didn’t think our approach was good. Credit their left-hander because he threw the ball good but he was basically throwing to one side of the plate versus our lefties. He did a good job. We didn’t have very good at-bats.”
The Florida offense gave the team a comfortable cushion in the early part of the game. Preston Tucker had an RBI double in the first and scored on when LSU center fielder Jared Foster collided with left fielder Alex Edward.
The big blow came in the third inning. After a Brian Johnson RBI single, Fontana blasted a three-run homer into the right-center field bullpen to push the lead to 7-2.
“You go up five runs that early and—you can’t give up though,” Fontana said. “It’s college baseball. We didn’t put any (at-bats) together later in the game, and that’s what got us.”
After Florida got its cushion in the third inning, the bullpen couldn’t hold onto the lead. Starting pitcher Karsten Whitson was pulled after one inning, but O’Sullivan said “he’s fine” and that it wasn’t injured related. Steven Rodriguez let LSU off the hook in the fourth inning when JaCoby Jones’ two-run double and Mason Katz RBI double brough the Tigers right back in the game.
“The turning point of the game was we scored four (in the third) and then we turn around and give up three in the fourth, which we can’t do,” O’Sullivan said. “We had a five-run lead and Paco is one of our best pitchers. When you give a team momentum like that, momentum swung like that.”
The loss almost guarantees that Florida will head into next week’s play without the No. 1 ranking for the first time this season.
“We’ll certainly use that as something we’ll talk about,” O’Sullivan said. “If it does help, then great.”
Florida returns to action on Tuesday at 6 p.m. when it travels to Tallahassee to take on Florida State.