Special to GC
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Sophomore Ryan Larson snapped a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning with a safety squeeze that brought home sophomore Peter Alonso with the winning run as No. 7 Florida (30-10/11-6 SEC) edged Mississippi State (22-18/6-11 SEC), 2-1, on Saturday afternoon in front of a season-high 13,004 fans on Super Bulldog Weekend.
Alonso went 3-for-4 with an RBI single, junior right-hander Aaron Rhodes (1-0) notched his first victory of the season and senior lefty Bobby Poyner yielded one hit over 2.2 scoreless frames to register his third save.
The Bulldogs threatened in the second inning, as junior John Holland went from first to third with one out after a failed pickoff attempt. However, sophomore Dane Dunning escaped the jam by striking out sophomore Luke Reynolds and having freshman Ryan Gridley ground out.
Alonso gave the Gators a 1-0 lead with a two-out single up the middle in the fourth that brought home senior JoshTobias. Tobias had singled with one down and moved into scoring position on a grounder by sophomore Buddy Reed.
An RBI single by senior Wes Rea knotted the game in the home part of the frame. Sophomore Jacob Robson stroked a one-out single into right center field and moved to third base on a wild pitch. Rea drove in his teammate with a base-knock into right field and Dunning prevented further trouble by having Holland hit into a double play.
A one-out bunt single in the sixth by senior Jake Vickerson prompted a pitching change, as Rhodes took over for Dunning (5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R). The reliever struck out sophomore Gavin Collins and freshman catcher JJ Schwarzgunned down Vickerson attempting to steal second to end the frame.
Florida started the seventh with consecutive singles by Alonso and Schwarz and a fielder’s choice by freshmanJeremy Vasquez left runners on the corners. Senior Trevor Fitts replaced junior Preston Brown (5-4) and Larson laid down a bunt up the first-base line which plated Alonso with the go-ahead run.
After Rea drew a one-out walk in the seventh and was replaced by junior pinch runner Michael Smith, Poyner was summoned for Rhodes. The southpaw had Holland fly out and Tobias made a sparkling defensive play on a ball hit by senior pinch hitter Cody Walker to throw out Smith at second base.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan
On today’s game:
“This should help our team winning a game like this showing that we can play well on the road and having to make big pitches. I thought Dane (Dunning) gave us a really good start and made some big pitches early and had the big strikeout with the runner at third in the second inning. He was good, we just felt like he had done his job after 5.1 innings. I thought Aaron (Rhodes) came in and did a real nice job to slow down that inning and finish up the sixth and then Bobby (Poyner) came in and made some big pitches.”
“I thought offensively we did just enough. Their starter (Preston Brown) was really good – he didn’t miss a spot for a good seven innings. Pete (Alonso) came up with a big two-strike single up the middle to give us the lead and the push bunt by Ryan (Larson) gave us the second run. (It was a) Very clean game, we played really good defense. The biggest challenge for us coming into the weekend was playing on the road and this is one of the most difficult places to play in our league. To hold on like we did with a one-run lead says a lot about our character and I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
- Florida has captured its last five SEC games and improved to 4-2 in league series this spring.
- UF is now 5-2 in one-run games this year.
- The Gators out-hit the Bulldogs, 11-5, and turned one double play this afternoon.
- Richie Martin (2-for-4) had a one-out single in the first inning to right field to increase his hitting streak to nine games. He has reached base in 17 straight games, longest current stretch by a Gator.
- Buddy Reed started the second with an infield single for a 10-game hitting streak and Dalton Guthrieboosted his skein to seven games with a base-hit in the third inning.
The Gators and Bulldogs wrap up the tomorrow at 3 p.m., in a matchup of right-handers, as freshman Alex Faedo(3-1, 2.12) will oppose MSU sophomore Austin Sexton (3-3, 3.52). The game can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell, will be carried on ESPNU with Gabe Gross and Tom Hartand viewed through participating TV providers through WatchESPN.