Cody Glenn wasn’t Aaron Nola, but he was good enough.
Glenn gave LSU 6.2 solid innings, three relievers backed him with scoreless outings and Mason Katz, JaCoby Jones and Ty Ross each drove in a run as the LSU baseball team defeated Florida 3-2 on Thursday night in Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers won for the eighth time in as many Southeastern Conference series openers but for the first time without starting Nola, their No. 1 starter who has thrown three consecutive complete games and will take his normal turn Friday night.
Glenn, normally the No. 3 starter, gave up five hits, one walk and two runs, one earned, and tied his career high with six strikeouts. He went pitch for pitch with Florida ace Jonathon Crawford, who gave up six hits and two runs in 5.1 innings.
“If I told you before the game that Cody would outlast Crawford, I don’t know if you would have believed me,” Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said. “I don’t know if I would have believed me.”
Katz’s RBI single, Jones’ home run and Ty Ross’ tiebreaking sacrifice fly gave the Tigers just enough offense as Nick Rumbelow, Joey Bourgeois and Chris Cotton combined to pitch 3.1 scoreless innings of relief.
Rumbelow pitched a scoreless third of an inning, Bourgeois (3-1) had a scoreless eighth and Cotton followed with a perfect ninth for his 10th save.
“Cody was outstanding,” Ross said after catching Glenn’s first start in 11 days. “He really stepped up huge for us. His fastball was sinking, and he was throwing his curveball for strikes. He kept them off balance.”
The third-ranked Tigers improved to 41-6 and 17-5 in the SEC. The Gators fell to 25-21, 12-10.
Jones broke a 1-1 tie when he hit a solo home run in the fourth. It was his fourth homer of the season, matching his total from each of his first two seasons.
After yielding a run in the third, Glenn retired the side in the fourth, fifth and sixth. He got the first two outs in the seventh but couldn’t get the third. Josh Tobias singled, and Harrison Bader doubled him home to tie the score and finish Glenn.
Bader went to third on the throw home, but Rumbelow came in and struck out Cody Dent to preserve the tie.
Florida threatened to take the lead against Bourgeois in the eighth. Richie Martin led off with a single and, after two outs and numerous throws to first, Martin stole second and Justin Shafer walked. But Bourgeois got Zack Powers on a grounder to first.
Alex Bregman and Mason Katz had back-to-back singles to start the bottom half. Johnny Magliozzi relieved Ryan Harris and threw a wild pitch before getting Raph Rhymes to pop to second.
The Gators intentionally walked Christian Ibarra to load the bases, and Ross lined a 1-2 pitch to center to send Bregman home.
Cotton, who hadn’t had a save in his past five SEC outings, pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two.
Glenn allowed just a single in the first two innings before running into trouble in the third.
Florida took advantage of Glenn’s momentum pulling him to the third-base side of the mound after he released the ball. With one out, Dent pushed a bunt to the right side of the mound and beat it out for a single, and Martin followed his and did the same thing.
Casey Turgeon walked to load the bases, and Glenn was in danger of walking in a run when he fell behind 3-0 on Taylor Gushue. But Glenn got the count full, and Gushue fouled off four straight pitches before grounding back to Glenn, who threw home for a force out. Ross threw to first to try to complete the double play, but Katz dropped the ball for an error that allowed Martin to score.
Katz atoned for the error in the bottom half. Tyler Moore and Sean McMullen started the inning with four-pitch walks against Crawford. Mark Laird failed to sacrifice and struck out before Bregman field to right. Katz’s single to left tied the score.
“When I came up to the plate,” Katz said, “I was just telling myself, ‘Make up, make up, make up.’ “
The Tigers were 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position in losses to South Carolina last Saturday and Sunday and 0-for-5 on Thursday before Katz’s hit. LSU wound up 1-for-11, but that didn’t tell the story - and it didn’t matter with the way Glenn and the bullpen pitched.