Florida looked like a top 10 team and LSU looked like a group with a whole bunch of improvement to make to get on that level, dropping the opener of the series 7-2 to the hometown Gators.
LSU (15-7, 1-3) rode with Blake Money on the mound once again and the Tigers’ Friday starter could only keep the high powered Gators offense down for so long. After allowing solo home runs in the first and third innings, Money was sharp enough to get LSU into just a 2-0 deficit through four innings.
But troubles surfaced once again in the fifth inning for Money, who certainly wasn’t helped by some shaky defense as Florida poured on to its lead with four runs in the inning to really put the Tigers in a big hole. Money consistently found himself down in counts and missed on some pitches that Florida was able to take advantage of, capped by a two run homer, the third of the evening, which gave Florida a 6-0 cushion for one of the best pitchers in the country.
The defensive issues also cropped up again with more than a few glaring mistakes including a few dropped routine popflys in the infield.
While the pitching suffered, LSU’s offense didn’t fare any better. The strength of this team is supposed to be at the plate but the Tigers struggled mightily getting balls to drop against the Gators’ staff.
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The poor performance at the plate was particularly disappointing because of the uncharacteristic night for Florida ace Hunter Barco. Possibly the best pitcher in the conference the Tigers will face this season, Barco left a few opportunities open for the LSU offense that the team just wasn’t able to take advantage of.
Barco, who came in with just two walks the entire season, walked three batters and hit two in his seven innings on the mound. What compounded issues was that as the Gators built their 7-0 lead through six innings, the Tigers went just 1-for-18 at the plate and 0-for-7 with runners on base. Barco and the Florida pitching staff would make up for the high walks on the night by striking out nine LSU batters, making it 29 strikeouts over the last two games for the Tigers.
Strikeouts and double plays ended any threats this offense could muster for two thirds of the contest. For example in the seventh when LSU would get it’s leadoff man on base, the next two batters would strikeout and a pop fly would end one of many opportunities the team had.
Missed opportunities has kind of been …….