Last Modified: Saturday, May 04, 2013 10:20 PM
BATON ROUGE — When LSU coach Paul Mainieri arrived at the ballpark Saturday morning, it was still unseasonably chilly.
“But you could just tell it was going to warm up,” Mainieri said.
Evidently, he wasn’t just talking about the weather.
After two games of shivering and scratching for any little run or edge, the Tigers’ bats came out red hot and completed a weekend sweep of Florida with a giant exclamation point, pounding the Gators for 19 hits in an 18-6 victory.
“We needed that, as an offense,” said shortstop Alex Bregman, who contributed a pair of doubles, three RBIs and three runs. “We kind of hit a lull (offensively) the last two weeks. We should be back in the swing now.”
The Tigers were certainly swinging Saturday, particularly during a four-run fifth that blew the game open for a 7-2 lead and an eight-run sixth that turned it into a laugher.
“I think we got some of our cockiness back, some our swagger,” Bregman said. “We were having fun, really loose. We played good all-around.”
A three-run seventh gave LSU an 18-2 lead before the Gators got four of their runs and six of their 11 hits in the ninth as two Tiger relievers took their sweet time about recording the game’s final out.
JaCoby Jones, had a career-high six RBIs with a two-run double in the fifth that tied the score 2-2, and he capped the mega sixth inning with the Tigers’ first grand slam of the season to put LSU up 15-2.
Third baseman Christian Ibarra went 3-for-3, including a two-run double that cleared the bases for three runs, and backup catcher Chris Chimea drove in all the runs in the seventh with a double.
“It’s hard to play better than 19 hits and error-free ball,” Mainieri said. “And (starting pitcher) Ryan Eades really settled in after the first inning.
“I had a feeling they were on a mission and weren’t going to be denied today.”
The sweep left LSU 43-6, 19-5 Southeastern Conference, with two conference series remaining. Florida, which was swept for the first time in four years, fell to 25-23, 12-12.
In the process, LSU:
l Scored its most runs of the season for it widest margin of victory of the year.
l Scored its most runs against an SEC opponent since scoring 18 against Tennessee in 2009.
l Got its most hits against an SEC opponent since getting 19 against Florida in the opening round of the 2010 SEC tournament.
l Six Tigers had multiple hits, six scored multiple runs and seven contributed RBIs.
Eades (8-1) gave up two runs in the first inning on a single, Taylor’s Gushue’s triple and a sacrifice fly. But he allowed only one more hit before leaving (with a 15-2 lead) after the sixth just so the bullpen could get some work.
Jones’ six RBIs were a career-high, highlighted by his second home run of the weekend and his first grand slam.
Jones has hit the ball hard all year but has gradually lifted his average from .188 to .284 in the last month after a hard-luck start. For the weekend he went 8-for-16 with nine RBIs and a home run Friday night.
“The hits are starting to fall for him,” Mainieri said. “The first (two-run double in second down the third-base line), he didn’t strike extremely hard, it just found the hole.
“The grand slam, it’s hard to have bad luck when you hit them over the fence.”
The blast into a gentle breeze cleared the left-field bleachers, donking into the scoreboard just below the video board where his picture was displayed during the at-bat.
“That’s the longest ball I’ve seen here,” Bregman said.
“I’ve hit one way farther than that,” Jones said. “Maybe not here, but last year at Auburn.”