FLORIDA 12, MISSISSIPPI STATE 3
The biggest sign that we’re inching closer to the end of the SEC Tournament is that we’re starting the day’s games at noon now rather than 10:30. Trust me, that is a welcome development.
Florida, a team that needed an 8th-inning rally to beat Auburn on Wednesday night in a game that didn’t finish until it was officially Thursday morning, did the exact same today. Except, they didn’t score just one run in the 8th to put them ahead. They absolutely obliterated Mississippi State in the 8th inning.
Statistically, the Gators have had a middle-of-the-road offense this season when compared to other SEC teams, but they were completely shut down for the first 7 innings today by Mississippi State and an unlikely hero.
Cole Gordon, a pitcher who started only 6 games for the Bulldogs and put up a 5.14 ERA this season, took the mound in one of Mississippi State’s most crucial games. No one was really quite prepared for the dominance he showed, shutting down Florida, an SEC champion and surefire national seed.
In 7 scoreless innings of work, Cole Gordon struck out 7 batters, all while allowing only 4 hits. Now, while he was busy dealing, the Mississippi State offense went to work, with Hunter Vansau tallying 2 RBIs off of a triple in the 4th and a double in the 6th. The Bulldogs’ other run was scored off of a wild pitch.
However, once Gordon left the game in the 8th after allowing a leadoff single, Florida started to make a move for the lead. With 1 out and the bases loaded, Deacon Liput stepped up to the plate. He singled into right, bringing the MSU lead to 3-1. Eventually, Riley Self would allow another run due to a wild pitch and strike out Maldonado. Nevertheless, it was a walk of Jonathan India that tied the ballgame at 3.
Austin Langworthy then provided the 8th inning heroics, knocking in two more runs with a clutch double. From there, Florida’s win was all but sealed as they continued to pile on runs against an outmatched Mississippi State bullpen. It was a rough way for Mississippi State to end a game in which Cole Gordon had given it his all. Instead, they’re sent to the loser’s bracket.
After their comeback today, Florida will be off until tomorrow, where they will face the winner of the Arkansas-Mississippi State elimination game that will take place later tonight.
SOUTH CAROLINA 3, KENTUCKY 1
The Gamecocks keep rolling.
Thanks in part to a pinch-hit homer by TJ Hopkins and some stout pitching, South Carolina advanced to the semifinals with their 3-1 win over the Kentucky Wildcats.
After being kept off the board for seven innings, Hopkins stood in and delivered this blast to left field to put the Gamecocks over the top.
Needless to say, South Carolina was pumped up about it after.
The Wildcats got on the board in the first inning after Luke Becker laid down a bunt that brought Tristan Pompey home. But eight scoreless innings would follow, as the Cats could only muster up five hits in those eight innings of action after Pompey’s leadoff single in the first.
To say that Hopkins’ hit was timely and decisive would be putting it mildly. The blast off the bat of the Gamecocks pinch hitter was just the second hit of the night for South Carolina, who had trouble figuring Justin Lewis and Logan Salow otherwise. Zack Thompson had a clean inning in relief, too. But sometimes, as the adage goes, “quality over quantity,” and that was certainly the case for the Gamecocks in Hoover on Friday night.
The win for South Carolina not only moves them to the semis, but helps them make a bit of history as well.
ARKANSAS 9, MISSISSIPPI STATE 2
A six-run sixth inning propelled the Arkansas Razorbacks past the Mississippi State Bulldogs Friday evening in Hoover.
Locked in a 1-1 tie entering the bottom of the sixth, the Razorbacks sent 11 men to the plate and collected six hits to go along with their six runs. Dominic Fletcher got the party started with a home run to lead off the inning.
Carson Shaddy walked and scored on Jax Biggers’ triple. Biggers scored on Grant Koch’s double. Koch came in on a fielder’s choice a couple batters later. Eric Cole had an RBI single and later scored on a sac fly. It was a terrible inning for Mississippi State.
Cody Brown hit a solo home run to get one of the runs back in the seventh inning, but that would be all the Bulldogs could record. Biggers added two more runs for Arkansas with an eighth inning RBI double off of Brent Rooker. Yes, that Brent Rooker.
Arkansas now moves on to face Florida in Saturday’s semifinal while Mississippi State awaits Selection Monday.