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MSU Falls To #1 Gators In Game 1 Of NCAA Super Regional

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Jarrod Parks had a pair of hits for the Bulldogs.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Mississippi State found the going tough Friday afternoon in the opening game of the Gainesville Super Regional. The 16th-ranked Bulldogs spotted top-ranked Florida the early lead and never recovered, falling 11-1 at McKethan Stadium.

With the win, the Gators (49-16) move within one win of earning a return trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. The best-of-three series resumes with a noon ET start Saturday, which will be televised nationally by ESPN. Should MSU (37-24) force a third game, it would be at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.

The Gators removed all doubt in Friday's contest early. Florida scored four runs in the first inning and added two scores in the second inning and another in the third inning. MSU starter Evan Mitchell (6-2) was touched for five hits and seven runs (all earned) in two-plus innings of work.

In postseason play this year, Florida has outscored its opposition, 33-1 over the first three innings of play.

"The thing that we have to do against a really good club like Florida is we have to throw the ball in the strike zone immediately," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "If you give up solo home runs, it's not bad. But if you add walks, it's going to hurt."

Bulldog pitching walked six Florida hitters. The Bulldogs also made two errors defensively.

In the first inning, Nolan Fontana drew a leadoff walk. Bryson Smith followed with a single. A four-pitch walk to Preston Tucker loaded the bases. Mike Zunino followed with a two-run single. After a strikeout, Tyler Thompson added a two-run double.

An inning later, the lead grew to 6-0 on a two-run home run by Fontana. That blast followed the first of two walks to ninth-place hitter Cody Dent. Mitchell was lifted after a leadoff home run by Zunino an inning later.

"Probably half of my pitchers were missed up and you're not going to win when you do that," Mitchell said.

While the MSU pitching staff struggled to be effective, the homestanding Gators did not have that problem.

UF ace Hudson Randall (10-3) worked eight innings, allowing six hits and one run (earned), with a season-high eight strikeouts and only two walks. Hudson made amends for a 7-5 regular-season loss to the Bulldogs in Starkville.

Down 10-0, the Maroon and White tallied their lone score in the sixth inning. Jarrod Parks began the inning with a leadoff single. Nick Vickerson followed with a double to left field. A groundout by Jaron Shepherd scored Parks.

"You've just go to forget about it, as soon as you leave the park," said Parks, who had his 24th multi-hit game but only second in his last 14 games. "Preparation starts for the next game as soon as we leave here."

The Bulldogs finished with seven hits. Parks was the lone multiple hitter. A total of four hurlers threw with Devin Jones (2 IP), Kendall Graveman (3 IP) and Chris Stratton (1 IP) following Mitchell to the mound.

The Gators finished with 11 hits. Smith had three hits, while Zunino and Adams each had two hits. Kennah Kish threw the ninth inning for the Gators.

Saturday's projected starters include MSU junior left-hander Nick Routt (3-3, 3.78) and Florida freshman right-hander Karsten Whitson (8-0, 2.42).


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