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Florida Takes Baseball Series Finale, 9-3

LSU's Ryan Schimpf
LSU's Ryan Schimpf
Chad Vignes
Chad Vignes

BATON ROUGE -- No. 9 Florida collected 15 hits and avoided an SEC series sweep as the Gators topped third-ranked LSU 9-3 Sunday afternoon in Alex Box Stadium.

The Tigers (38-14, 18-9) control their own destiny in the SEC regular season championship race with three conference games remaining next weekend at Mississippi State. 

Florida improved to 35-17 overall and 17-10 in the conference and sit atop the SEC East, despite dropping two games this weekend.

LSU captured the first two games of the weekend series over the Gators, and the Tigers have won 12 of their last 13 SEC series, dating back to last season.

“It’s tough to sweep an SEC series, especially against a team that’s in the Top 10,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “We had a couple of tough breaks early, and we just couldn’t seem to get going at the plate. The positive news is that we control our own destiny and have a chance to win the SEC championship next weekend.”

LSU collected eight hits in the contest, including two hits apiece by catcher Micah Gibbs and center fielder Leon Landry. Shortstop Austin Nola also contributed, as he collected two RBI.

The Gators’ 15-hit performance was led by center fielder Matt den Dekker, who went 3-for-3 with three RBI, and first baseman Preston Tucker, who went 4-for-5.

Florida starter Nick Maronde (3-1) threw a brilliant five innings for the Gators, holding LSU hitless through the first three frames. Maronde allowed only two runs on three hits, while walking two and striking out eight.

The Gators gained a 1-0 lead in the third when third baseman Brandon McArthur singled home Mike Mooney with the bases loaded. The next batter, right fielder Jonathan Pigott singled through the left side to score den Dekker and Tucker to give Florida a 3-0 advantage.

LSU cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth when Schimpf blasted a solo homer over the wall in right-center field. It was Schimpf’s 16th homer of the year.

Florida took a 4-1 lead in the top of the fifth when McArthur doubled to score den Dekker, who singled one batter earlier.

Paul Bertuccini came on in relief for Austin Ross after McArthur’s double and struck out Pigott to end the inning.

In the bottom of the frame, the Tigers cut the deficit to 4-2 when right fielder Derek Helenihi scored on a sacrifice fly by shortstop Austin Nola.

Florida added to their lead in the top of the seventh when den Dekker singled up the middle off to score Tucker and Mooney to make the score 6-2. Later in the inning, Pigott single in the infield to score den Dekker and put the Gators up 7-2.

The Tigers scored their third run in the seventh when Leon Landry scored on a fielder’s choice by Nola to make the score 7-3.

The Gators came back in eighth and scored two more runs to increase their lead to 9-3.

Sunday’s game was played before an actual crowd of 6,318, increasing the three-game weekend total to a school-record 24,479.

LSU is back in action Tuesday night in the home finale in Alex Box Stadium when the Tigers host Centenary. The first pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT.

Florida 9, LSU 3 (May 10, 2009 at Baton Rouge, La.)

Florida............. 003 010 320  -  9 15  0      (35-17, 17-10 SEC)
LSU................. 000 110 100  -  3  8  1       (38-14, 18-9 SEC)

Pitchers: Florida - Nick Maronde; Tony Davis(6); Patrick Keating(6); Alex Panteliodis(8); Billy Bullock(9).
LSU - Austin Ross; Paul Bertuccini(5); Chad Jones(7); Nolan Cain(7); Buzzy Haydel(8); Ryan Byrd(8); Ben Alsup(9).
Win-Nick Maronde(3-1)  Loss-Austin Ross(5-6)  T-3:18  A-9578
HR LSU - Ryan Schimpf (16).
Actual Attendance: 6,318



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