Starkville, MS - Powered by an eight-run fifth inning, Florida (15-18/5-7 SEC) salvaged the finale of its series at No. 17 Mississippi State (26-9/5-7 SEC) with an 8-3 victory on Sunday afternoon in front of 7,660 spectators at Dudy Noble Field. Sophomore Connor Mitchell (Tampa, Fla.) (1-for-3) moved the Gators in front with a three-run, pinch-hit triple and sophomore Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) was a career-best 3-for-4 with a two-run double and had a pair of hits in the extended fifth frame in which 12 batters stepped to the dish. Sophomore right-hander Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.) (3-1) captured his SEC starting debut by working 5.2 innings in which he allowed three runs.
Mississippi State used a sacrifice fly by junior Hunter Renfroe and an RBI single by junior Brett Pirtle to take a 2-0 lead against Magliozzi in the first inning. Junior Adam Frazier led off with a double down the left-field line and went to third on a single up the middle by junior Alex Detz. After Renfroe opened the scoring with a sac fly into center field, Detz stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Pirtle singled through the right side to drive in Detz and redshirt sophomore Wes Rea was hit by a pitch for two Bulldogs aboard and one down. Magliozzi struck out junior C.T. Bradford and had a fielder’s choice by senior Mitch Slauter end the inning.
The Gators sent a dozen batters to the plate and erupted for eight runs on six hits and one error to build an 8-2 lead in the fifth. It was the most runs scored by the Orange and Blue in a frame this season and was highlighted by a go-ahead, three-run pinch-hit triple by Mitchell. Senior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) led off with a single into left field and Tobias legged out his second infield single of the day to put UF in business. Freshman Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) reached on a bunt single to load the bases with none out and prompt a pitching change. Freshman Myles Gentry took over for sophomore Jacob Lindgren (2-1 record, 4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R) and Mitchell sliced a 2-1 pitch down the right-field line to clear the bases and put Florida on top. It was Mitchell’s first career triple and was his first pinch hit of the season.
Senior Chad Girodo relieved Gentry (1 H, 1 R) and walked senior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) for runners on the corners and then surrendered an RBI single into left field by freshman Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) that brought in Mitchell. Sophomore Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) laid down a sacrifice bunt and a throwing error by senior third baseman Sam Frost enabled Dent to score for a 5-2 Gator advantage. Redshirt junior Ben Bracewell came in for Girodo (1 H, 3 R) and sophomore Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) lofted a sacrifice fly into left field to score Martin. After Turgeon stole second, sophomore Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) drew a walk and Ramjit advanced his teammates into scoring position with a grounder. Tobias came through with his second hit of the stanza, a two-run double down the right-field line, to balloon the margin to 8-2. It marked the first time that a Gator had two hits in an inning since Turgeon accomplished the feat against Georgia Tech during the NCAA Gainesville Regional on June 3, 2012.
Frost began the home part of the inning with a double into left center and freshman Jacob Robson (2-for-3) followed with an RBI single to narrow the gap to 8-3. After a fielder’s choice by Frazier erased Robson at second base, Magliozzi induced an inning-ending 6-3 double play from Detz.
In the sixth, Pirtle was hit by a pitch with one down and Bradford earned a two-out walk to cause a pitching change. Sophomore Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) replaced Magliozzi (5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 K, 1 BB) and struck out Slauter to complete the frame.
Gushue raised his hitting streak to nine games with a leadoff double in the seventh and went to third on a grounder by Shafer. However, redshirt sophomore Ross Mitchell had Ramjit ground out and Tobias fly out to strand the runner.
Rea opened the ninth with a base-hit into right field and was replaced by junior pinch runner Derrick Armstrong. Bradford followed with a single into left field to prompt a pitching change, as junior Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) took over on the mound for Harris (2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 K). Senior pinch hitter Trey Porter flew out to center field, advancing Armstrong to third base, and Gibson caught freshman pinch hitter Kyle Hann looking on strikes for the second out. Bradford stole second for a pair of Bulldogs in scoring position and Gibson had junior pinch hitter Demarcus Henderson ground out to Ramjit to complete the contest. Florida wound up with an 11-8 advantage in hits.
Florida will wrap up its regular-season series with No. 5 Florida State (27-5/10-5 ACC) on Tuesday night in Tallahassee. The game will be carried on ESPN3 and Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell will broadcast the game at 6 p.m. for the Gator Radio Network. Live audio and stats will be available on GatorZone.com and fans can also follow updates of each game on @GatorZoneBB, the official Twitter account of the Gator baseball program.