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May 3, 2013

Rewind: LSU 5, Florida 0

Aaron Nola threw a four-hit shutout in his fourth straight complete game victory as LSU defeated Florida 5-0 on Friday night at The Box.

LSU second inning - Raph Rhymes singled and Christian Ibarra was hit by a pitch. Ty Ross bunted the runners over to second and third. Rhymes scored on JaCoby Jones' ground out to second base. LSU 1, FLORIDA 0

LSU fifth inning - Jones singled and moved to second on a bunt single by Jared Foster. Jones scored on a double by Sean McMullen. Foster scored on Mark Laird's ground out to second base. LSU 3, FLORIDA 0

LSU eighth inning - With one out, Rhymes doubled. Ibarra reached on an error by third baseman Josh Tobias. After Ross forced Rhymes at third, an infield single by Jones loaded the bases. Both Ibarra and Ross scored when Andrew Stevenson beat out a ground ball to shortstop. LSU 5, FLORIDA 0

Sixth inning - Rhymes walked. After Ibarra flied out to rightfield, Ross singled. Jones struck out and Foster lined out to second base.

Jones extended his hitting streak to six games with singles in the fifth and eight innings. Jones had a role in all three innings in which LSU scored. He drove home a run in the second with a ground ball to second base. Jones scored the first of two fifth-inning runs on McMullen's double. Then, Jones' topped-ball hit down the third base line preceded Stevenson's two-run single in the eighth. Jones has 11 hits in his last 21 official at-bats. His batting average for the season is now .280.

Nola, the Southeastern Conference leader in strikeouts, had a season-low three against Florida. With the wind briskly blowing in from leftfield, Nola relied upon his defense. He gave up just four singles - two of which never left the infield. Nola was in trouble just a couple of times. With runners at second and third and one out in the third, Nola got Richie Martin to line out to Bregman at shortstop and Casey Turgeon to ground out back to the mound. With runners on first and second and no one out in the seventh, Nola got Vickash Ramjit to line out to Bregman, who threw to Jones to double off Justin Shafer at second base. Nola walked just one batter. Nola is the first LSU pitcher in 20 years to pitch four straight complete games. Mike Sirotka tossed four consecutive complete games in 1993. The shutout was the second of the season for Nola, who has a 9-0 record. In his last four starts, Nola has allowed four runs and 16 hits in 36 innings. He has walked three and struck out 31 in those four games.

The victory was the 300th for Paul Mainieri as LSU coach. . .With a lefthanded pitcher on the mound, Foster played rightfield and batted ninth. McMullen was back as the designated hitter. . .Like Jones, Foster extended hitting streak to six games with a single in the fifth inning. Foster is 8-for-18 during his hitting streak. . .Rhymes was the only LSU player other than Jones to have two hits. Rhymes had his first multiple-hit game since April 27 against South Carolina. Rhymes was 2-for-11 in LSU's last three games. . .Mason Katz went 0-for-4 and had his hitting streak end at four games. . .Florida starting pitcher Bobby Poyner allowed three runs and four hits in 4.1 innings. . .The Tigers were 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position. . .LSU is 34-0 this season when scoring at least five runs. . .The Tigers are 42-6 overall, 18-5 in the SEC. LSU remains 2 games behind Vanderbilt in the overall SEC standings. The Commodores defeated South Carolina 3-2 on Friday. The Tigers maintain their three-game lead over Arkansas in the SEC West. The Razorbacks beat Kentucky 2-1 on Friday. Florida is 25-22 overall, 12-11 in the SEC. The Gators are now seventh in the overall SEC standings. . .The actual crowd was 6,951.

Coach Paul Mainieri:

(on winning his 300th game at LSU): "Getting 300 victories is an amazing phenomenon. I have had some really good ball players and a great staff. Everybody has worked hard. It's nice to hit those benchmarks. Now, we can go out and try for No. 301 tomorrow."

(on Aaron Nola's performance): "It was a pitcher's night with the wind coming in. It was a cool night and that helped him. We played great defense behind him. I am glad Aaron didn't really have many strikeouts. If he did, his pitch count would have been up and he would not have had a complete game. I was not going to let him go much further."

(on LSU's offensive performance): "There was not a lot of offense, but again it was a cold night for the hitters. I know we have more in us, but I think it was the conditions tonight. We played for one run at a time early. We were facing a lefthanded pitcher, the wind was blowing in and Nola was pitching for us. We had one real good offensive inning (fifth). JaCoby gets a base hit. Foster hustled out a bunt for a hit. McMullen hits a double into the leftfield corner. Then, Laird pulls a ball to second base to get a run in. Laird needed to do something positive after not getting the bunt down in the first inning."

Alex Bregman
(on starting the line drive double play in the seventh): "The (previous batter) hit a ground ball in the six hole to my right. If I dive for it, the ball would have been in the middle of my body. So, I reached out for it and it went off my glove. I was now expecting the next guy to hit the ball to me. He hit a line drive to my right. I saw the runner (on second) take a step toward third base out of the corner of my eye. I said 'Oh, we've got a shot.' I threw the ball to JaCoby and got the double play. Sometimes, I feel like I want to make a play.

(on playing behind Nola): "When Nola is up there, he just pounds the zone with strikes. That is one thing that helps you stay focused when he is out there."

Aaron Nola
"My pitch count determines whether I can get a complete game. I have thrown about the same number of pitches each game (low 100s). My defense definitely helps me out. They are hitting balls in the gap which our outfielders are running down (two by Laird on Friday). Then, we are making double plays. I was pitching to contact and I was trying to get first-pitch outs. I still try to get a strikeout when I need one. Not everything was working tonight. My fast ball command was pretty good. But, my curve and my changeup were not as good as they have been. That's why I didn't have as many strikeouts."

LSU will play host to Florida at The Box on Saturday at noon. Ryan Eades (7-1, 2.30 ERA) will be the starting pitcher for the Tigers.



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