The streak that began 332 days ago won’t live to see 30.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs (22-9-1, 7-4 SEC) ended the Florida Gators (29-4, 8-3 SEC) 29-game home winning streak with a 10-4 win on Saturday night. The 10 runs are the most Florida has given up in a game since May 1 (11 in a loss to Georgia) of 2015.
Sophomore Alex Faedo’s night was one to forget. Faedo entered the game having given up just 12 earned runs over a team-high 42.2 innings pitched, but would give up nine earned over five innings of work on Saturday.
“It wasn’t the best start for Alex, but in Alex’s defense everything they put in play was just kind of out of reach,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It was just one of those nights; credit Mississippi State’s hitters.”
The Bulldogs started the night with back-to-back-to-back singles, all just a hair out of the reach of Dalton Guthrie and Jonathan India’s outstretched gloves. Faedo then went 2-0 on third baseman Gavin Collins, before throwing a slider that didn’t slide, rather hitting Collins in the back of the helmet to score a run. Collins’ jumped up immediately, took first base and remained in the game. That was just the beginning for Faedo, who surrendered four runs, all earned, on four hits in the first inning.
Mississippi State’s Cody Brown tacked on in the third inning. The 5-11, 190 pound right fielder, who was making just his 12th start of the season, launched a 1-1 fastball high into the night, just clearing the wall for his first grand slam and second home run of the season. Jake Mangum’s triple later in the inning gave State a 9-0 lead.
“They were putting good swings on the ball and they were just falling, just right out of our reach,” said sophomore right fielder Jeremy Vasquez, who was 3-4 with a double on Saturday. “It’s pretty tough to come back from that.”
The Gators showed some grit, battling back to get into the game. Buddy Reed launched a three-run dinger to right field, bringing the score to 9-3, and Florida would seriously threaten to make it a game again in the fifth.
India led the bottom of the fifth off with a single back up the middle, the third inning in a row that Florida had the first batter reach base safely. Guthrie and Reed walked to load the bases with no outs. Florida had power hitters JJ Schwarz and Pete Alonso due up.
Mississippi State went to the bullpen, calling on right-handed sidewinder Ryan Rigby. Rigby’s unusually low arm slot was able to keep Schwarz on his toes, working the count to 2-2 before grounding into a 1-2-3 double play, the third double play Florida grounded into at that point. Alonso went down swinging on three pitches and Florida’s best opportunity to get back into the game was thwarted.
“That was a huge inning for both teams,” Vasquez said. “That was a huge opportunity for us that we didn’t capitalize on. In ball games like this you can’t do that.”
Mississippi State added an insurance run on in the top of the ninth before Rigby’s perfect ninth inning ended the game and nearly year-old home winning streak.
Mississippi State has not named a starting pitcher for Sunday’s series finale, which will be broadcast at 4 pm on SEC Network. Florida named junior left-hander A.J. Puk the starter coming into the weekend but could change that plan.
Puk left his last outing after just 11 pitches due to back spasms. The junior threw a bullpen on Friday and was fine, but with two Thursday, Friday Saturday series coming up for Florida, O’Sullivan could opt to hold Puk out on Sunday and use him on Thursday.
O’Sullivan would turn to junior Dane Dunning Sunday, throw Puk on Thursday, allowing Logan Shore and Alex Faedo to remain in their normal rotation slots and weekly schedules.