Saturday May 8, 1999Rodriguez Pitches UF to 6-4 Win Over MSU
"I knew I had to battle," said Rodriguez, who improved to 2-0 on the season. "They needed a performance out of me and I wanted to give my team a chance to win."
Rodriguez held No. 17 Mississippi State to just four runs over 6.2 innings, the longest outing of the season for the senior left-hander. It also was his longest stint in over two years as Florida took a 6-4 decision at Dudy Noble Field to stay alive in the stretch run to reach the SEC Tournament.
"It was a very courageous effort by Sergio,"
said Head Coach Andy Lopez. "We had to have someone get to Grezlovski."
Ben Grezlovski, who earned his fifth save of the season, pitched the final 2.1 innings to preserve the win as UF rebounded from its 9-0 shutout loss Friday night. He entered the game in the seventh with two outs and one runner on base. He ended the inning with a strikeout, got MSU in order in the eighth and closed out the game in the ninth with a game-winning double play after the first batter reached on a single.
Florida (31-20, 13-13) finished the day one game ahead of Kentucky (12-14) for the final spot in the SEC Tournament.
"Every game is important from here on out," said Rodriguez.
The game got off to a good start for the Gators. Florida accomplished a feat it couldnt do in nine innings Friday get a runner past first base. Mark Ellis led off the game with a single to center field and Kurt Keene followed with a double to right field, giving UF runners on second and third base. Greg Catalanotte followed with a run-scoring groundout and Pete Nystrom singled to score Keene as UF led 2-0.
"The hitters did a super job tonight," said Lopez. "They came right out in the first inning with an aggressive attitude. It looked like we had a hitting plan tonight."
The Gators had 15 hits on the night and got the leadoff batter on base in seven of nine innings in the game, including each of the last six.
Mississippi State, which added a single run in the first, took the lead in the fourth inning. After a double by Travis Chapman, catcher Chris Curry homered to right center field off Rodriguez to take a one-run advantage.
The lead didnt last long.
UF, which had comeback 21 times this season, added two runs in the fifth off the bat of Ellis. Matt Heath doubled to start the inning and Taylor Wood followed with a single. After a groundout by Matt Goss and stolen base, Ellis lined a single off MSU starter Hank Thoms (7-4) to score both runs. UF would never trail again.
MSU did tie the game in the bottom of the fifth, but the Gators went ahead in the sixth when Thoms threw away the ball on a play at third base on an infield hit to score the winning run.
Jason Dill led the Gator hit attack with three hits on the night, scoring the winning run in the sixth after a leadoff single started the rally.
Florida added a run in the ninth when Catalanotte knocked a single to right field to score Matt Goss.
The only negative on the night for UF was a possible injury to senior shortstop Mark Ellis. He left the game in the seventh with a hamstring pull. He is listed day-to-day according to athletic trainer Dave Werner.
"They came out well tonight," said Lopez, whose squad was shutout Friday night. "Hopefully, we can do it again tomorrow."
The final game of the series will be played Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET with freshman Alex Hart (3-2) throwing for Florida against the Bulldogs Matt Ginter (6-6).