Baseball Salvages Series Finale Over Florida, 9-4

LSU's T.J. Forrest
LSU's T.J. Forrest (@LSUsports) (@LSUsports)
LSU Sports Interactive

BATON ROUGE -- LSU rallied from a 4-3 deficit with a three-run fourth inning, and freshman right-hander T.J. Forrest blanked Florida for the final four innings as the Tigers salvaged the series finale with the Gators, 9-4, on Sunday at Alex Box Stadium.

LSU (29-23-1, 12-14-1 SEC) closed its home schedule with a 19-14-1 mark in games played at Alex Box Stadium. The Tigers are in a tie with Kentucky for eighth place in the overall Southeastern Conference standings following the Wildcats' victory over Ole Miss on Sunday.

Florida (27-26, 14-13) fell into a tie for fifth place with Ole Miss in the league standings as a result of the loss. The Gators play host to Tennessee next weekend in the final regular-season series.

LSU faces No. 1 Vanderbilt in Nashville in a three-game series that starts at 7 p.m. Thursday. Game 2 is slated for 7 p.m. Friday with Game 3 set for Noon Saturday.

LSU sophomore left-hander Ryan Byrd (6-1) recorded his sixth victory of the year on Sunday, tossing five innings and allowing four runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out none.

Forrest tallied his first save in perhaps his best relief outing of the year, yielding no runs and only two hits in four innings of work. The freshman walked two and struck out four as he became the fifth pitcher on the staff to record a save this season.

"We had our backs against the wall, and the kids came out and played with a lot of fire," said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. "Ryan Byrd pitched great. T.J. Forrest was phenomenal. We got a good win.

"You had to admit that it was a must win, and you have to get the job done," Mainieri added. "If we didn't win today, we'd be going to Vanderbilt and having fun."

The Tigers were sparked offensively by the top of the order. Second baseman Chris McGhee, batting in the leadoff spot, went 2-for-5 and scored two runs. Designated hitter Nicholas Pontiff concluded a stellar weekend with two more hits and two runs.

After falling behind in the first two games, LSU took its first lead of the weekend with three runs in the first against Florida starter Billy Bullock (2-6), who allowed up back-to-back singles to McGhee and Pontiff to start the game.

Right fielder Blake Dean drove home McGhee on a groundout. Catcher Sean Ochinko and first baseman Buzzy Haydel then each collected RBI singles to give the Tigers a 3-0 advantage.

However, the lead evaporated in the top of the third when the Gators countered with three runs of their own. Left fielder Austin Pride led off the frame with a solo homer over the left field wall. After first baseman Cody Neer singled, centerfielder Jonathan Pigott tripled in a run and scored on a throwing error by shortstop Michael Hollander to tie the game.

UF scored its fourth unanswered run in the fourth on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Avery Barnes, scoring Pigott. But the Tigers took the lead again in their half of the fourth, this time for good.

McGhee tied the game with an RBI single and took second on a throwing error by catcher Hampton Tignor. On that same play, J.T. Wise, who had reached on a single, scored from first. Pontiff collected his sixth hit of the weekend with an RBI single.

LSU added two more runs in the sixth on a clutch two-out, two-run double by centerfielder Jared Mitchell. Wise provided another insurance run in the seventh with an RBI single, giving LSU a 9-4 lead.

Forrest never allowed the Gators to get back into the game. He finished off his outing with a scoreless ninth, which included retiring designated hitter Matt LaPorta, who was 0-for-4 on the day..

LSU 9, Florida 4 (May 13, 2007 at Baton Rouge, La.)

Florida.............. 030 100 000  -  4  9  3      (27-26, 14-13 SEC)
LSU................. 300 302 10X  -  9 13  1      (29-23-1, 12-14-1 SEC)

Pitchers: Florida - Billy Bullock; Josh Edmondson(4); Steven Porter(4); Patrick Keating(5); David Hurst(8). LSU - Ryan Byrd; T.J. Forrest(6).
Win-Ryan Byrd(6-1)  Save-T.J. Forrest(1)  Loss-Billy Bullock(2-6)  T-3:02  A-7092
HR UF - Austin Pride (11).
Edmondson faced 2 batters in the 4th.



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