Special to GC
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Sophomore Peter Alonso belted a pair of homers and drove in four runs as No. 7 Florida (31-10/12-6 SEC) downed Mississippi State (22-19/6-12 SEC), 10-5, on Sunday afternoon to finish off a Super Bulldog Weekend sweep at Dudy Noble Field.
With their sixth consecutive win in league play and first road sweep of the Bulldogs since 2002, the Gators have forged a three-way tie on top of the SEC East standings with No. 4 Vanderbilt (29-12) and No. 18 Missouri (26-14). After Mississippi State tied the game in the fifth, the Orange and Blue tallied four runs in the sixth to grab control of the game.
UF grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning against sophomore Austin Sexton (3-4) on a two-run single by senior Josh Tobias. Freshman Dalton Guthrie and junior Richie Martin (2-for-5) had opened the game with consecutive singles and junior Harrison Bader was plunked to load the bases. Tobias drove in a pair of runs with a base-hit into right field and Sexton countered with three strikeouts in a row.
Alonso (4-for-5) extended Florida’s lead to 3-0 when he started the fourth inning with his first homer of the year to left field.
The Bulldogs pulled to within 3-2 in the bottom of the frame on a two-run shot by sophomore Gavin Collins. Freshman right-hander Alex Faedo had retired the first 10 hitters of the contest before yielding a one-out single to senior Jake Vickerson (2-for-3, two runs) and Collins followed with his first round-tripper of the year to left field.
MSU tied the game in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by freshman Ryan Gridley after freshman Brent Rooker (2-for-4) had led off with a double down the left-field line and advanced to third on a wild pitch. After a one-out single by senior Seth Heck, junior Danny Young took over for Faedo (4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R) and gave up a single to sophomore Cody Brown and hit Vickerson to load the bases. Junior reliever Taylor Lewis (2-1) put out the fire by having Collins hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Florida answered with four runs on three hits in the sixth to seize a 7-3 advantage. Alonso connected on his second dinger of the day with sophomore Buddy Reed aboard for a 5-3 Gator advantage. It was his first multi-homer effort and ended the day for Sexton (5.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R). Sophomore Logan Elliot hit freshman JJ Schwarz and surrendered a single to freshman Mike Rivera (2-for-4) to fill the sacks before being replaced by freshman Levi Mintz. The reliever walked Guthrie to bring across Schwarz and Martin greeted sophomore Dakota Hudson with an RBI grounder to score Rivera for a four-run lead.
In the seventh, Alonso ripped a double into the right-center gap to score Reed all the way from first base for an 8-3 cushion. The Bulldogs used a two-run double by senior Wes Rea with two down in the eighth to narrow the gap to 8-5 but Rivera bashed a two-run, two-out triple in the ninth to complete the scoring.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan
On the Gators’ sweeping the Bulldogs:
“It’s hard to sweep anybody in this league at home, let alone being on the road, especially at a place like Mississippi State. I thought we had a really good frame of mind today, we talked about that for quite some time this morning before we got off the bus. When you have an opportunity to sweep a series, you have to play your best baseball and I thought they did.”
“Today was one of the better days we had making adjustments during the game. I thought Alex (Faedo) was solid, Danny (Young) threw the ball fine and as far as Taylor Lewis, the turning point of the game was with the bases loaded and one out and he got a 6-4-3 double play (in the fifth). This was a turning moment for him, he threw some really good sinkers today, he made the ball move and he threw to the bottom half of the strike zone, something he hadn’t really done this year.”
“Offensively, what can I say? We swung the bats great all weekend and I think the triple by Mike (Rivera) to answer back says a lot about our club. They pull within three and we answer right back in the ninth to distance ourselves.”
The Gators posted their first road sweep in SEC play since taking three games at Alabama from May 2-4, 2014.
Today’s crowd of 7,507 fans brought the series total of 30,003 at Dudy Noble Field.
Dalton Guthrie (8) and Richie Martin (10) extended hitting streaks with first-inning singles for the Gators.
Josh Tobias roped a three-run triple with the bases full in the first inning on Friday and had a two-run single in the opening stanza this afternoon.
Tobias made a diving stop and a strong throw over to first base and Harrison Bader robbed the Bulldogs’ next hitter of a single with a sprawling catch in left field to end the third inning.
Before his solo shot in the fourth inning, Peter Alonso’s last homer was May 15, 2014, at Tennessee.
After being perfect for 4.2 innings last Sunday against South Carolina, Alex Faedo retired the first 10 batters of the game versus Mississippi State.
Taylor Lewis worked 4.2 innings for the victory, allowing three hits and two unearned runs.
The Gators return to McKethan Stadium to host Bethune-Cookman (15-29/13-8 MEAC) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The game can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Mick Hubert.