Florida’s late-inning comeback bid fell short Friday night against Mississippi State.
A surging offense will meet one of the best pitching staffs in the SEC this weekend at Alfre…
The Gators trailed by three runs heading into the final inning. Brady McConnell had an opportunity to walk off with a runner on third, but he struck out to end the game.
UF was overpowered by MSU’s pitching staff until the final inning.
Mississippi State extended its win streak to 13 with a 6-5 victory over Florida. The Bulldogs (17-1, 1-0 SEC) swept the Gators (14-6, 0-1 SEC) in Starkville, Mississippi, last year and now hold a four-game winning streak against Florida.
Ethan Small (2-0) stifled UF’s surging offense to the tune of 11 strikeouts.
Wil Dalton put UF on the board in the fourth inning when he went yard off Small. He struck out in his two other plate appearances.
Brady Smith had a leadoff single in the third inning and walked in his second at-bat, but he was stranded on base both times.
Mississippi State’s Justin Foscue homered off Tommy Mace in the fifth inning, just minutes after Dalton’s home run, to tie the game up at 1-1. That run seemed to get the Bulldogs going as they scored in the following four innings.
Mace faltered in the seventh inning, walking the leadoff batter and hitting the next batter. It took one more at-bat for Mace to be replaced by Hunter Ruth, who then allowed an RBI single to Jake Mangum to put MSU ahead 3-1. Mangum’s hit bounced off Fabian’s glove in center field, allowing Dustin Skelton to score from third.
MSU continued piling on in the eighth inning on a Josh Hatcher RBI single up the middle, which scored Elijah MacNamee to put the Bulldogs ahead 4-1.
UF began to rally in the eighth. Cory Acton led off with a single and came around to score on an RBI single by Nelson Maldonado.
In the next at-bat, Kendrick Calilao’s hit fell a few feet short of the wall in right field. A home run would have tied the game. Instead the ball fell into MacNamee’s glove to end the threat.
Mississippi State added two insurance runs in the ninth inning. They proved to be necessary as the Bulldogs’ closer Cole Gordon nearly allowed a monster comeback.
Austin Langworthy began the rally with an RBI single, scoring Dalton. Langworthy later came around to score on a Kirby McMullen pinch-hit sacrifice fly, but Florida ultimately came up short.
Florida’s hitters, who had propelled them to a 8-1 record in March, faltered. The top four hitters in the order (Jacob Young, McConnell, Maldonado and Calilao) went a combined 1 for 14 with eight strikeouts. The off night ended McConnell’s 15-game hitting streak and Young’s 11-game hitting streak.
It was the first time Florida’s freshmen faced an SEC pitching staff, and it showed.
“It’s a typical Friday night,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “But when you look at it there’s just some mistakes we made that cost us a run here and a run there.”.
Follow Kyle Wood on Twitter @Kkylewood and contact him at [email protected].