Too much Florida pitching

Bryan Lazare, Senior Writer
Tiger Bait

Three schools were at the top of the preseason college baseball polls – TCU, Florida and LSU.


AP Photo/Matt Ryerson

Those predictions turned out to be very accurate as those three teams all reached the College World Series Final Four. Oregon State, which had an incredible 56-win season, rounded out the last four teams alive in college baseball.

The Gators and Tigers, who shared the Southeastern Conference title, met in the CWS championship series. LSU, which dropped two of three games at Florida about three months ago, came up second again in a series with the Gators.

There is no doubt that the Tigers made their share of mistakes in the two CWS losses. Russell Reynolds walks three straight batters in the fourth inning of game one. All three of these runners scored in a 4-3 Florida victory.

First baseman Nick Coomes made two errors which enabled the Gators to take a quick 2-0 lead in the second game of the series. Jake Slaughter’s illegal slide on a double-play ball resulted in the tying run coming off the scoreboard.

One inning later, LSU had runners on first and third with no one out. The heart of the lineup was coming to the plate – Antoine Duplantis, Greg Deichmann and Zach Watson. Florida pitchers Michael Byrne and Jackson Kowar retired the three hitters without a run scoring. The Gators pulled away for a 6-1 victory.

There were certainly instances in which the Tigers self-destructed against the Gators. But, the story of not only these two LSU-Florida games, but all five of their meetings in 2017 revolved around the Gators’ pitching.

The Tigers came to the plate in 45 innings in the five games against Florida. In 38 of those innings, the Gators held LSU scoreless. The Tigers scored 15 runs in the other seven innings – six coming in one inning in their lone victory against Florida.

No LSU hitter had more than five hits in the five games against the Gators. Cole Freeman was the only Tigers player with more than two hits in the two games in the CWS championship series.

Now, Florida was not running out there ordinary arms. Alex Faedo, who did not pitch in the championship series, was the first-round draft choice of the Detroit Tigers earlier this month. Faedo threw seven scoreless innings in the Gators’ 1-0 victory against Alex Lange in the regular season.

Brady Singer, who won games in both the regular season series and the CWS championship series, was projected before this season as the No. 3 player in the 2018 major league baseball draft. Jackson Kowar, who picked up the save in the title-clincher, was projected as the No. 5 player in next year’s draft.

Both teams had to use one of their non-weekend starters in the championship series. LSU used the fifth-year senior Reynolds, whose baseball career is now complete. Florida used Tyler Dyson, a freshman who struck out 45 batters in 33 innings this season and is expected to be a high 2019 draft selection.

The Tigers’ starting pitching was not poor at all in the five games against the Gators. Florida scored 25 runs in the five games. Not having Eric Walker available in the championship series certainly was a factor. If LSU had a healthy Walker, Caleb Gilbert would have been the starter in game one.

Still, the 2017 season was an excellent one for the Tigers. There was no national title, but LSU was SEC co-champion with Florida and SEC tournament champion. The Tigers handed an Oregon State team, which had just four previous defeats, back-to-back setbacks.

The final worksheet in 2017 will show that LSU won 52 games, shared the SEC title, won the SEC tournament crown and was the national runner-up. There is absolutely nothing wrong with those accomplishments.

Here are batting statistics for LSU’s everyday starters in the NCAA tournament, in the College World Series and in the five games against Florida.


NCAA tournament: .275 (14-for-51)

CWS: .200 (6-for-30)

2 Florida series: .136 (3-for-22)


NCAA tournament: .227 (10-for-44)

CWS: .200 (5-for-25)

2 Florida series: .294 (5-for-17)


NCAA tournament: .260 (13-for-50)

CWS: .259 (7-for-27)

2 Florida series: .211 (4-for-19)


NCAA tournament: .222 (10-for-45)

CWS: .240 (6-for-25)

2 Florida series: .263 (5-for-19)


NCAA tournament: .333 (16-for-48)

CWS: .346 (9-for-26)

2 Florida series: .263 (5-for-19)


NCAA tournament: .306 (11-for-36)

CWS: .217 (5-for-23)

2 Florida series: .235 (4-for-17)


NCAA tournament: .216 (8-for-37)

CWS: .200 (4-for-20)

2 Florida series: .235 (4-for-17)


NCAA tournament: .281 (9-for-32)

CWS: .227 (5-for-22)

2 Florida series: .231 (3-for-13)


NCAA tournament: .259 (7-for-27)

CWS: .267 (4-for-15)

2 Florida series: .357 (5-for-14)

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