The writing was on the wall when junior pitcher Brady Singer was scratched just 10 minutes before he was scheduled to throw his first pitch on Friday night. Mississippi State came out swinging and freshman Jack Leftwich, who pitched just five days ago, was on the losing end of that offensive output as the Bulldogs won 12-3.
Kevin O’Sullivan planned on throwing Singer between 50-60 pitches Friday night, with Leftwich relieving him but that timeline was pushed up before first pitch. Leftwich had given up 12 earned runs in his last three starts and this one wouldn’t go much better.
Leftwich hit leadoff hitter Jake Mangum to start the game and a single before recording the first out of the inning, a strikeout. A balk moved both runners into scoring position and Hunter Stovall’s single would give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.
Florida battled back, scoring two runs of their own in the second, when JJ Schwarz walked and moved into scoring position on Wil Dalton’s double. Schwarz scored when Austin Langworthy hit a sacrifice fly and Blake Reese brought Dalton home with a double to left field.
The Bulldogs were relentless, scoring two more on two hits and a Florida error to reclaim the lead 4-2 after two innings.
Leftwich would strike out the side in the third but gave up two more runs on four hits before getting out of the inning. It was the second time Leftwich struck out the side while giving up a pair of runs Friday night.
Andrew Baker took over for Leftwich in fourth inning. He would give up one hit but put the first zero on the board for the Gators. The sixth inning would not be the same.
Baker gave up a leadoff single and hit Alexander before a sacrifice bunt moved the pair into scoring position. A walk, wild pitch, single and a home run later the Bulldogs had unleashed six runs on Baker and the Gators. Baker had given up just seven earned runs all season prior to the six run fifth inning.
Of note would be the health of JJ Schwarz. The senior catcher left the game in the fifth inning when a foul tip hit him directly in his right throwing hand. Schwarz left the game and O’Sullivan, trailing 12-3, started clearing out his bench. Shane Shifflett replaced Jonathan India; Cal Greenfield took over behind the plate and Keenan Bell at first.
This is the first weekend series loss for the Gators since April 7-9, 2017 when they dropped two to Tennessee in Gainesville. The streak of 19 consecutive series wins and 15 in conference is incredible Florida is the last team in the league to lose a series this season. The last SEC team to go the entire season without dropping a weekend series was the Vanderbilt commodores in 2013.
Gators 19-series winning streak by the numbers
Overall: 45-12 (.789), six sweeps. Outscored opponents 421-204
VS SEC: 32-10 (.762), four sweeps. Outscored opponents 326-182
The Gators will look to avoid the sweep tomorrow at 4:30 pm on ESPNU with Jackson Kowar on the mound.