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Mississippi State Drops Game 2 To Florida

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Cody Freeman went 3-for-5 at the plate for the Bulldogs.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State saw its modest six-game home win streak snapped as the Bulldogs fell 18-0 to fourth-ranked Florida in a Southeastern Conference baseball game played Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.

On a picture perfect day on the MSU campus, a Super Bulldog Weekend crowd of 10,332 left disappointed. It was the 25th time a crowd of 10,000-plus has gathered at the historic venue. With the victory, the Gators evened the Super Bulldog Weekend series at a game apiece. The teams play the rubber match at noon Sunday. MSU built an early lead and held on for a 7-5 victory in Friday's series opener.

MSU lost a home conference game for the first time this season. The Bulldogs fell to 21-10 overall and 5-6 in league play, while the Gators improved to 25-7 and 8-3. MSU still maintains second place in the Western Division standings. The Maroon and White are now 6-3 against ranked opponents this season.

"I'm very disappointed in the way we played," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "We didn't handle the short turnaround very well. We have to come out tomorrow prepared to play and win."

Florida removed all doubt in Saturday's contest by scoring eight times in the top half of the second inning. In his shortest stint of the season, MSU sophomore right-hander Chris Stratton did not survive the inning. In relief, Chad Girodo was touched for a grand slam by catcher Mike Zunino. That hit capped the big second inning and placed the Gators in good stead.

By the time, the activity ended MSU was shut out for the third time this season and suffered its worst defeat since a 22-4 setback to Tennessee in 1998.

In the UF second inning, Zunino began things with a leadoff single. After a flyout, Austin Maddox singled through the right side of the infield. A four-pitch walk to Jeff Moyer loaded the bases. Daniel Pigott followed with an RBI-single. Tyler Thompson then drew a four-pitch bases-loaded walk.

Nolan Fontana reached as a hit batsman, forcing in another run. After a popup, Preston Tucker drew a four-pitch walk, forcing in another run. Stratton then gave way to Girodo. On the first offering from the new Bulldog hurler, Zunino launched his sixth home run of the season.

The Gators would expand the lead with two scores in the third inning and single scores in the fifth and sixth innings. A six-run seventh inning closed the scoring.

In the Florida third inning, MSU reliever Evan Mitchell got the first two outs before issuing a walk to Thompson. Thompson stole second base before scoring on an RBI-single by Fontana. Adams followed with an RBI-single, scoring Fontana.

Adams had an RBI-single in the Florida fifth inning, while a ground ball out hit by Maddox plated another run in the sixth inning. The seventh inning was highlighted by a two-run double from Moyer and a two-run single from Pigott.

The Gators finished with 18 hits. Zunino had three hits and five RBIs. Multiple hitters also included Fontana, Adams, Maddox and Pigott.

Cody Freeman had three of MSU's eight hits.

Stratton (4-3) took the loss. In 1.2 innings of work, he allowed three hits and seven runs (all earned), with three walks and no strikeouts. Girodo, Mitchell, Victor Diaz, Andrew Busby and Kendall Graveman also pitched.

Starting pitcher Brian Johnson (5-1) worked six innings for the win. Johnson allowed six hits, with three strikeouts and no walks. Daniel Gibson threw two innings, while Matt Campbell worked the ninth inning to close out the Gators' seventh shutout of the season.

On Sunday, MSU is scheduled to start junior left-hander Nick Routt (0-1, 2.61 ERA), while Florida is scheduled to start freshman right-hander Karsten Whitson (4-0, 2.06). The Bulldogs return to the road Wednesday for a 6 p.m. start at UAB. That contest is the completion of a suspended game, which will resume with the homestanding Blazers leading 4-3 in the sixth inning.



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