1: Just one game, but a hugely important one
Earlier this week, I wrote an article about the road to 20 wins, the usual benchmark for a team to win the Southeastern Conference. Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan told me the key was, if you lose the first two games, make sure you don’t lose the third. It sounds exceedingly simple, but his point struck a chord Sunday. If LSU had been swept by Florida, it would’ve been easy to see a team desperately searching for answers after just two weeks of SEC play. Instead, the Tigers are a confident team heading home despite being manhandled most of the weekend. Sunday’s hero Cole Freeman summed it up this way, “This is the type of game you look back on at the end of the year and say, ‘Wow, that could’ve won us the SEC championship.’ ”
2: Alex Lange knows the bounce back.
It may have resulted in a losing effort, but man, was Alex Lange outstanding against Florida on Friday. Some were concerned with Lange after he was roughed up for the second time in three outings last week against Georgia, but the Tigers ace followed it up with one of his best performances of the year, logging eight innings of one-run ball when his team sorely needed it. Maybe the only game where he was better this year was his dominating eight innings against Wichita State, which also happened to come the week after a rough outing against TCU. In the two appearances after his worst starts of the year, Lange allowed one run in 16 innings and struck out 16 against just one walk.
3: Great pitching or poor hitting?
For 25 innings this weekend, LSU was completely shut down by Florida pitching. So was it a bad showing by LSU, or a great showing by Florida? Being completely honest, it’s probably a little bit of both. First, let’s start with the poor hitting aspect of it. LSU had some promising opportunities, most notably Friday, but just could not find a way to get the key base hit. Midway through Sunday’s game, the Tigers were 0 for 17 on the weekend with runners in scoring position. That’s to be expected to a degree considering that Florida’s Alex Faedo and Brady Singer were at the peak of their immense abilities, but LSU certainly can’t afford another weekend like that when it sees great pitching later on this year.