College baseball: No. 1 Florida takes series opener vs. No. 8 Mississippi St.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No. 1 Florida used a five-run fifth inning to defeat No. 8 Mississippi State, 8-2, on Friday night. The Gators (29-3/8-2 SEC) raised their winning streak to six games and have notched 29 straight victories at McKethan Stadium with the series-opening success against the Bulldogs (21-9-1/6-4 SEC).
Junior right-hander Logan Shore (6-0) worked 5.2 innings to pick up the victory and was supported by a balanced offense in which eight of the nine UF starters contributed a hit. The Gators also ended MSU junior Dakota Hudson's (4-2) school-record stretch of 34.2 consecutive innings without yielding an earned run.
"We had a really good approach to this game and you obviously need to," said Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan. "His (RHP Dakota Hudson) numbers just speak for themselves and obviously he's going to be a very high draft pick and he's going to pitch for an awfully long time. It was a great effort by our players. We had a great game plan, and it's easy to do that on paper and I talked about it before the game, but it's another thing when the players go out and actually execute the game plan. I am pleased with and proud of the way we played tonight."
Mississippi State scored twice in the second inning to open the scoring. Freshman Elih Marrero had a one-out triple into right center field and sophomore Brent Rooker (2-for-3) was hit by a pitch for runners on the corners. Senior John Holland drove in Marrero with an RBI grounder and Rooker came in on a single up the middle by sophomore Ryan Gridley (2-for-4).
The Gators cut the deficit in half during the third inning, when freshman Jonathan India (1-for-4, two runs) scored on a wild pitch by Hudson. The right-hander had retired the first eight batters of the game before India reached on a fielding error by Holland at second base. Sophomore Dalton Guthrie (3-for-4) reached on an infield single to first base, with India taking third on the play. India put the Gators on the board with heads-up base-running during ball four to junior Buddy Reed.
Florida exploded for five runs on seven hits and batted around in the fifth to take a 6-2 lead. Entering Friday, Hudson had surrendered just five earned runs in 48.2 innings this season. Sophomore Jeremy Vasquez and freshman Nelson Maldonado (2-for-4, two runs) opened with back-to-back singles and India tied the game with a double into right center. After Guthrie walked, Reed put the Gators on top with a single into left field that scored Maldonado and sophomore JJ Schwarz (2-for-5, two RBI) followed with a two-run single that plated India and Guthrie. Freshman Deacon Liput delivered a one-out RBI single to bring across Reed.
In the top of the sixth, Rooker had a one-out single into left field and Gridley had a two-out infield hit that resulted on Bulldogs on the corners. Junior Kirby Snead was summoned for Shore (5.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 4 K) and had freshman Jake Mangum ground out to India on the first pitch to close the stanza.
The home team tacked on two more runs in the eighth to finalize the margin at 8-2. Junior Ryan Larson started the frame by being hit by a pitch and took third on a base-hit by Maldonado, who stole his first career base for a pair of Gators in scoring position. Guthrie roped an RBI single into left to bring home Larson and Maldonado scored the final run on a wild pitch by freshman Ethan Small.
After Snead tossed 2.1 innings of scoreless ball, sophomore Nick Horvath recorded the first two outs in the ninth and junior Frank Rubio recorded the game's final out for the Gators.