It took more than 40 minutes, six Mississippi State pitchers and the Florida Gators sent 16 batters to the plate but, when the dust settled, the Gators had an 11-3 lead in the top of the eighth after entering the frame with none.
Florida had just three hits and had only had two opportunities with a runner on second heading into the eighth inning, but the offensive explosion tied a record for most runs scored in a single inning in the SEC Tournament.
“It’s amazing. I love this team to death,” Jonathan India told Laura Rutledge after the game. “We have a lot of grit, a lot of heart and we play for each other.”
The Bulldogs got on the board first in the fourth inning. Cody Brown laced a one-hopper towards Keenan Bell at first base. The ball took a hop off of Bell’s glove and into his chest before rolling away towards second, allowing Brown to reach on what was ruled an error. Hunter Vansau quickly made the Gators pay for that error with a triple to right center to break open the scoring, 1-0.
Mississippi State added to its lead in the fifth inning. After fouling a ball off of his knee, Josh Lovelady laced a ball to center field. Horvath, who replaced Ryan Larson in center, tried to slide to make a catch but the ball bounced sharply in front of him and careered into Horvath’s mouth. Horvath immediately covered his face and had to leave the game and get stitches in his lip. A strikeout, single and fly out later left runners on the corners with two outs. Kowar uncorked a wild pitch to plate Lovelady before getting Mangum to fly out to center.
Another run in the sixth extended the lead. Hunter Stovall singled to lead off the frame and was moved to second with a sacrifice bunt. Vansau struck again, doubling to right center to plate Stovall.
Meanwhile, the Gators had no answer for Gordon. The redshirt sophomore from Tampa was making his seventh start of the season but had never thrown more than four innings in a game.
Gordon hit Ryan Larson in the head with a fastball to start the game. Larson would take his base but leave the game in the bottom of the inning, replaced by Nick Horvath. Gordon got a double play and a strikeout to get out of the first. Gordon actually faced the minimum through five innings. He erased a single in the fifth with an inning-ending double play to keep the streak alive. Gordon gave up just three hits through a scoreless seven innings of work on 86 pitches. He gave up a leadoff single in the eighth before getting pulled.
That’s when things got weird.
The Gators sent 16 batters to the plate, facing six different Mississippi State pitchers. The Gators drew six walks, one intentional, to get back into the game, taking their first lead on this Austin Langworthy single.
— Nick de la Torre (@NickdelaTorreGC) May 26, 2017
The Gators tacked on another run in the ninth inning. Two walks and a single loaded the bases before Mike Rivera lofted a sacrifice fly into right field to score Jonathan India.
Michael Byrne and Frank Rubio finished the last six outs for the Gators. The win advances Florida to the SEC Tournament semifinal on Saturday where they will face the winner of an elimination game between Arkansas and Mississippi State.