Trailing 5-1, Mississippi
State (11-3) exploded for nine runs on
nine hits in the seventh inning on its way to a 12-9 victory over Florida (10-11) in the
teams’ Southeastern Conference opener on Friday night at McKethan
Stadium. The Bulldogs banged out 17 hits and notched their 12th double-digit
hit total in 14 outings this season. Freshman Connor Powers was a career-best
4-for-5 and senior Brian LaNinfa was 2-for-5 with
three RBI to pace MSU. Sophomore Aaron Weatherford improved to 3-0 by working
6.1 innings and junior John Lalor registered his
first career save.
The Gators jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first
against Weatherford. Sophomore Avery
Barnes (High Springs, Fla.)
drew a one-out walk and senior Matt LaPorta (Port
stroked a single into right field. A throwing error by Bulldog junior catcher
Edward Easley allowed both runners to move into scoring position before the
right-hander fanned freshman Cole
Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.).
Senior Austin Pride’s (Longwood, Fla.)
infield hit beyond third base scored Barnes and LaPorta
also came across when he beat the relay throw to the plate.
two-out RBI double in the third off junior Bryan
Fla.) cut UF’s
lead in half. Rookie Brandon Turner led off with a base-hit up the middle and
Easley walked before the Gators turned a 6-4-3 double play on a ball hit by
junior Mitch Moreland. With Turner perched on third base, LaNinfa’s
rocked Augenstein’s 1-2 offering into right field for
his sixth two-bagger of the campaign.
The Gators answered in the bottom of the frame on
sophomore Cody Neer’s
two-out double into right center to seize a 3-1 lead. Weatherford retired the
first two batters and then plunked senior Brian
Fla.). With Leclerc running on contact, Neer
collected his 15th RBI on his sixth double.
increased its lead to 5-1 in the fifth on a couple of hits, two wild pitches
and a pair of walks. Townsend earned a base on balls to start things off,
Barnes singled through the right side and back-to-back wild pitches enabled
Townsend to score and Barnes to occupy second. As LaPorta
took ball four for his team-leading 14th free pass, Barnes swiped third for his
first theft of the year. Figueroa lined an RBI single into center and
Weatherford rebounded by having Pride ground into a double play and striking
out freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft.
Mississippi State erupted for nine runs on nine
hits and three Gator errors to take a 10-5 lead in the seventh. Powers and
junior Andy Rice delivered consecutive one-out singles off Augenstein
and senior Joseph McCaskill followed with a pinch-hit
RBI single to close the gap to 5-2. Sophomore Mark Goforth
made it four-straight hits with a base-knock to center to plate Rice and the
Bulldogs wound up with runners on second and third courtesy of a fielding error
by den Dekker. Senior Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.)
replaced Augenstein (6.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R) and gave up an
RBI single to senior Jeffrey Rea before fanning Turner. A walk to Easley filled
the sacks with two down and Moreland walked on four pitches to tie the game. LaNinfa moved the Bulldogs in front, 7-5, with a two-run
flare into center to chase Porter (0.1 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 2
BB). Powers greeted junior reliever Josh
Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) with an RBI single to score
Moreland and Rice’s double brought across LaNinfa and
a throwing error by Petrie allowed Powers to make the count 10-5 for MSU.
Although McCaskill laced a single into right, Rice
was gunned down at the plate on a relay from Leclerc
UF countered with three runs in the home part of
the stanza to reduce its deficit to 10-8. LaPorta
registered his third hit with a leadoff single but was forced at second on
Figueroa’s fielder’s choice. After Pride reached on an error, Figueroa took
third on a wild pitch and a walk to den Dekker loaded the bases and caused a
pitching change. Lalor took over for Weatherford (6.1
IP, 9 H, 8 R, 4 BB, 6 K) and surrendered a two-run single to Leclerc and a sacrifice fly by Neer.
State’s offense kept up its production in the
eighth, tacking on two more runs for a 12-8 margin. Goforth
and Rea opened with back-to-back singles off freshman Clint Franklin (Orlando,
Fla.) and Turner’s sacrifice
attempt was thrown away, permitting Goforth to score.
Moreland later added an RBI single to put the visitors ahead by four. Townsend
opened the bottom of the inning with his fourth homer into the left-field
bleachers to finalize the score at 12-9.
The Bulldogs enjoyed a 17-12 advantage in hits and
the teams combined for eight errors. In addition to Powers and LaNinfa, Goforth, McCaskill, Rea, Rice and Turner contributed multiple-hit
efforts. LaPorta and Leclerc
were each 3-for-4 for the Gators. Sophomore LHP Stephen Locke (Tampa,
Fla.) (2-2, 5.40) will pitch
tomorrow’s game two of the series at 4 p.m. against MSU junior Justin Pigott (2-1, 4.03).