Caglianone ties up LSU series with extra-inning heroics

It took 11 innings, but the Florida Gators evened up a crucial weekend series with the LSU Tigers, 6-4, on Saturday night thanks to a two-run home run in extras from Jac Caglianone.

Florida struggled to hit LSU starter Gage Jump, but it chipped away at a two-run lead once the bullpen came in. Liam Peterson only went 4 1/3 innings for Florida, but the bullpen threw six scoreless to back him up.

Peterson’s fastball worked up to 97 mph, but he controlled it better around 94-95 mph. Peterson’s curveball and changeup both have a ton of potential, but LSU figured out his arsenal by the second time around.

Jump walked the first batter he faced and put him in scoring position with a wild pitch, but he settled in to retire the next six in a row. He hit Tanner Garrison to start the third, but a nice play to get the force at second helped him out of the inning without giving up a run.

That’s when Peterson broke. A one-out single appeared harmless enough, but a line drive at third baseman Dale Thomas scored the first run of the game for LSU. Thomas knocked down the ball but made a bad throw to first, one that Jac Caglianone couldn’t save.

The run shouldn’t have scored, but Caglianone couldn’t find the play at the plate once he corraled the ball. Peterson got out of the inning without giving up a second run, despite a walk to Tommy White.

Florida responded immediately, tying things up on a double play and taking the lead on a single from Thomas against the shift.

Peterson gave things up immediately, though.

Hayden Travinski hit a solo shot in the fourth, and Mac Bingham and Jared Jones went deep in the fifth to put LSU up, 4-2. Kevin O’Sullivan let Peterson keep working through the three solo home runs, but he pulled the freshman after another double and a walk.

Left-hander Frank Menendez came in to get out of the jam and earned the double-play ball he was looking for. Cade Kurland couldn’t make a good throw, though, extending the inning. A flyout to right ended the fifth instead.

Menendez came back out for a sixth and struck out Steven Milam, but a four-pitch walk brought in Luke McNeillie. Tanner Garrison threw out his sixth baserunner of the season to erase the walk, but McNeillie gave up a free base himself before ending the frame.

Gage finally left the game after hurling a career-high 105 pitches. Gavin Guidry replaced him and dispatched Thomas using just three pitches. Guidry and McNeillie both pitched through the seventh and into the eighth. LSU went to the bullpen first, following a leadoff hustle double from Ty Evans.

Left-hander Nate Ackenhausen entered to give Caglianone a bad matchup. Cags rifled a ball up the middle into the shift, but the infield couldn’t handle it (despite an infield hit ruling). Things fell flat quickly after Shelnut struck out and Luke Heyman popped out on the first pitch he saw.

Kurland put together an ugly at-bat with two outs, but he sworded so badly that the catcher lost the ball and a run scored.

McNeillie nearly made it through the eighth, but Kurland failed to finish off another double play. Tough night for the sophomore standout. Sully changed the lineup too, moving Kurland out of the leadoff spot and replacing him with Colby Shelton, followed by Evans, Caglianone, Shelnut and Luke Heyman. Landon Russell also got the start in center field.

Ashton Wilson pinch hit for Garrison and drew a crucial leadoff walk. He moved over to second on a groundout that brought LSU three strikes away from a series win, but Evans had different plans. A line drive to center scored Michael Roberts, the pinch runner for Wilson, setting up extra innings.

Florida turned to its closer Brandon Neely to hold the tie. No trouble. Neely retired the three batters he faced in order, but a pinch-hitting situation forced him out of the game.

The Gators loaded the bases in the top of the 10th and gave up the designated hitter spot to bring in Jaylen Guy, but the Tigers got out of the inning without giving up a run.

Ryan Slater entered for Landon Russell, who started in center field and swapped with Guy who came in for the pitcher. To recap, no runs scored, no more designated hitter, Guy in centerfield and Slater on the bump. Yes, it’s confusing.

Slater sat LSU down, 1-2-3, bringing up the top of Florida’s betting order. Evans punched his third hit of the night into the outfield, bringing up Caglianone for the dagger.

The crowd silenced immediately after the ball cleared the fence, and a two-out single from White in the bottom of the frame hardly brought back the energy.

Slater closed things out, tying the series and forcing a rubber match on Sunday.

Caglianone will take the mound for Florida at 3 p.m.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire