Pitching powers Gators to SEC semifinal

The No. 1 seed Florida Gators (39-20) survived and advanced in their second consecutive elimination game with a 5-1 win over the No.5 seed Mississippi State Bulldogs (37-22) on Friday night.

Danny Young set the tone with an outstanding pitching performance for the orange and blue. After loading the bases in the opening frame, Young got an inning ending 5-4-3 double play to get out of trouble and give the Gator bats a chance to do some damage in the second inning.

Taylor Gushue kicked the inning off with his first-of-two hits on the evening. Braden Mattson walked before Zack Powers loaded the bases with a bunt single. Both Mattson and Gushue would touch home on a throwing error by Mississippi State shortstop Seth Heck — it was just Heck’s fourth error of the season.

Florida wouldn’t stop there, adding a run in the fourth inning. Mattson lined a ball into right field for a lead off triple and Alonso brought him in to score two batters later. Florida would load the bases in the inning but came away with the lone run to show for it.

The Gators added an insurance run in the sixth with a Josh Tobias RBI single and another in the seventh with a Gushue RBI ground out to plate Martin.

While the Gator bats were busy busting out nine hits on the game, the pitching staff continued to shine.

Young threw a brilliant 4.1 inning of four-hit, no-run baseball. Young struck out two and didn’t walk anybody before being replaced by Justin Shafer, who was as brilliant. Shafer — who had only thrown 28 innings this season — threw 4.2 innings, giving up just two hits and a run, while striking out three. Shafer sat down the first six batters he faced and helped guide the Gators to their second-consecutive elimination game victory.

Florida will play Kentucky tomorrow approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the LSU-Arkansas game, which begins at 1 pm EST. Despite coming out of the loser’s bracket, the Gators only need to beat Kentucky once to work their way into the championship game.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC