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Saturday May 6, 2006No. 21 Mississippi State Clinches Series Over Baseball, 8-1

Starkville, MS

A seven-run outburst in the fifth inning powered No. 21 Mississippi State (33-15/11-11 SEC) to an 8-1 victory over Florida (24-25/6-17 SEC) in the first game of a doubleheader at Dudy Noble Field on Saturday afternoon. Making his second start of the year, sophomore left-hander Justin Pigott (5-0) limited the Gators to three singles and an unearned run in going the distance for his first career complete game. He was supported by a 12-hit offensive barrage and a pair of RBI apiece from senior Joseph Hunter (1-for-4) and senior Brad Jones (2-for-3). The win clinched the weekend series for the Bulldogs, ending a five-series slide since March 24-26 (2-1 over LSU), and sent UF to its seventh-straight series setback.   


After surrendering a leadoff double by junior Jeffrey Rea in the first and stranding the runner, senior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) faced a similar situation in the third inning. Senior Jeff Butts mashed a two-bagger to the wall in center before junior left fielder Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) snared Rea’s line drive. A fielder’s choice by sophomore Edward Easley resulted in Butts being erased at third and Ball set down senior Thomas Berkery on a liner to sophomore second baseman Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.).


Mississippi State snapped a scoreless tie with seven unearned runs on five hits and two Gator errors in the fifth stanza. Jones drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed into scoring position on a bunt from Butts. A fielding error on Rea’s ground ball gave the hosts runners on the corners with one down and a fielder’s choice by Easley enabled Butts to come across with the game’s first run. Berkery followed with a single into shallow right to push Easley to third and junior Brian LaNinfa came through with an RBI single through the right side for a 2-0 lead. Junior Joseph McCaskill’s fly ball to right was dropped, allowing Berkery to score the third run. Sophomore Mitch Moreland punched an RBI single to right, Hunter roped a two-run double and Jones laced an RBI single to increase the margin to 7-0 and end the afternoon for Ball (4-8). The right-hander allowed eight hits over 4.2 innings, with zero earned runs, two walks and a strikeout. Junior David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.) retired the only batter he faced, Butts, to complete the inning in which the Bulldogs sent 11 batters to the plate.    


Helped by a MSU fielding mistake, Florida got on the board with two down in the seventh frame. Junior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) was hit by a pitch from Pigott with one out and was on his way to third base on junior Gavin Dickey’s (Tallahassee, Fla.) two-out base-knock into right. The right fielder misplayed the ball, allowing LaPorta to score Florida’s lone run.  


The Maroon and White answered with a run in the home portion of the frame on a two-out RBI single by Jones off sophomore Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) that plated junior Matt Richardson. Edmondson whiffed junior Wyn Diggs to start things off before yielding a pinch-hit double to Richardson. Following a groundout by Hunter, Jones sliced a single into left and Richardson eluded Dickey’s throw to junior catcher Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.). Edmondson (1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R) was replaced by freshman J.K. LaCoste (Jacksonville, Fla.), who worked the final 1.1 innings with three K, a couple of walks and one hit.


Mississippi State will send freshman Aaron Weatherford (4-1, 3.03) to the hill in the series finale against junior southpaw Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) (1-0, 2.30). The game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Central time.


Game Notes

  • Bryan Ball dropped his sixth decision in a row, dating back to a 6-3 win over Arkansas on March 17.
  • Mississippi State defeated the Gators in a series for the first time since 2000, when the Bulldogs took two of three games in Starkville.
  • The Bulldogs stranded 10 runners, compared to three for Florida.
  • UF’s hits were provided by Brandon McArthur (third), Chris Petrie (sixth) and Gavin Dickey (seventh).








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