The approach worked. The LSU designated hitter delivered a two-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning to lift the Tigers to a 2-0 victory over Florida on Sunday in the championship game.
“I wasn’t feeling any pressure at all,” McMullen said. “I was just actually looking around seeing what I’m a part of, all the fans that came to the game and such a beautiful facility. I wanted to soak it in. I knew this would be my last game at this field.
“I just grew up dreaming about playing for the LSU Tigers and for this to happen to me is just very surreal.”
An LSU win at the Hoover Met was hardly out of the ordinary. The Tigers (44-14-1) have won five of the last seven SEC tournament titles, two straight and a league-high 11 overall.
The crowd was mostly LSU fans.
“I can tell you, it never gets old,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “Our players just love it here, and they play great. It brings out the best of us.”
The top-seeded Gators (40-21) managed just two hits against four LSU pitchers.
Florida pitchers mostly contained an LSU team that had outscored its last seven opponents 85-8 and breezed through its first three games in Hoover.
It was the lowest-scoring title game since the SEC went to the current format in 1996 and the third shutout. Florida center fielder Harrison Bader saved a run with a diving catch.
“You always hope when you’re in a championship game that both teams play really well, crisp,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “That’s probably the best way to describe it. It was a really crisp game.
“It was really clean on both sides. It just comes down to a pitch.”
McMullen, who sprinted around the bases, also walked twice before delivering the decisive hit over the right-field fence. Jake Fraley had singled after Alex Bregman was picked off at first.
LSU’s Tyler Moore was named tournament MVP.
Kurt McCune pitched two scoreless innings for his fifth save.
The Gators sent the top of their lineup to the plate in the ninth against McCune.
He walked Casey Turgeon to open the inning, then got Richie Martin to ground into a double play to shortstop. Mainieri said he made it to the top step of the dugout and planned to bring in closer Joe Broussard but stopped when he interpreted the look from McCune as saying “stay where you are.” McCune got Harrison Bader to ground out to first to end the game.
“I just thought he was throwing the ball amazing, as good as I’ve ever seen him throw it,” Mainieri said.
The Gators turned two double plays and LSU had three with several nice defensive plays from Bregman at shortstop.
“We wouldn’t have won the ballgame if he doesn’t make those plays,” Mainieri said.
Zac Person (3-1) pitched a perfect inning to get the win. Starter Alden Cartwright went four innings while Nate Fury pitched two.
Gators starter Karsten Winston pitched six-plus scoreless innings, allowing three hits, walking three and hitting two batters. He left after plunking Tyler Moore to start the seventh and reliever Ryan Harris (3-2) got out of that inning unscathed but gave up the home run.
Winston got Kade Scivicque to hit into an inning ending double play with the bases loaded in the sixth.