6-run ninth inning secures series win for Florida over Mississippi State

·3 min read

Florida baseball broke a close game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs wide open in the ninth inning on Saturday with a six-run barrage to win a 9-3 ballgame.

After driving in six runs in the series opener on Friday, catcher BT Riopelle got things going early once again for the Gators with a sacrifice fly to left field in the first inning. The Bulldogs responded almost immediately with an RBI single in the bottom half of the frame and then things fell quiet until the fourth. MSU took a one-run lead in the fourth but lost it in the top of the fifth to a Jac Caglianone double that split the gap in left-center. Sterlin Thompson and Wyatt Langford came around giving the Gators a 3-2 lead.

On the mound, each club had decent nights from their starter that ended earlier than they would have liked. Brandon Neely lasted just four innings for Florida after working his pitch count into the upper-80s with seven strikeouts and four walks. Preston Johnson went five innings for Miss. State and also struck out seven while walking five. Florida struggled to get the Bulldogs’ bullpen until the ninth inning.

KC Hunt came in for his second inning of work and ran into trouble quickly. Thompson reached on an infield single to third base to start the inning off. The umpire gifted two strike calls to Hunt and punched out Jud Fabian before Riopelle drew a walk. Caglianone doubled again to left scoring Thompson and giving the Gators the lead. The ball should’ve been playable, but the left fielder took a horrible route and broke inward on a ball that was clearly going over his head.

That’s when the floodgates opened up.

Kendrick Calilao somehow kept a double down the right-field line fair and drove in two more. 6-3, Gators. The Bulldogs got finally got the first out of the inning at home plate on a fielder’s choice from Colby Halter. It didn’t matter much, though, as right fielder Ty Evans homered and made it 9-3.

The bottom half of the frame was a formality for Ryan Slater who entered as the third UF reliever of the game in the seventh and closed it out. Phillip Abner was the first pitcher out of the bullpen for Kevin O'Sullivan and Fisher Jameson followed in his third appearance of the year.

Sully opted to give Evans a rare start in this one. Thompson moved into the infield at second base shifting Halter over to third and pushing Deric Fabian out of the lineup. We suggested in a midseason review of the team that removing him temporarily could be a way to shake up the lineup, but it seems this is only a night off for the younger Fabian, according to On3’s Nick de la Torre.

The Gators will go for the sweep on Sunday against projected starter Cade Smith. After a solid freshman year out of the bullpen, Smith has stepped into a starting role and served as the third-man nicely. Florida’s starter is unknown at this point. First pitch is at 2 p.m. EDT.

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Series preview: Florida travels to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs

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