HOOVER, Ala. - Mississippi State saw its run in the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament come to a close with a 5-1 loss to Florida Friday night at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
MSU (37-22) completed a 2-2 run through the tournament. The Bulldogs were playing less than 24 hours after a heart-breaking 7-6, 12-inning defeat to Kentucky. Ironically, MSU met South Carolina, Kentucky and Florida for the first time this season in the tournament. Regular season champion and tournament top-seed Florida (39-20) will play Kentucky in the semifinal round of the tournament Saturday.
Meanwhile, MSU appears headed to a fourth straight NCAA Regional. With a third-place finish in the SEC Western Division and 21 wins against league opponents, the Bulldogs like their chances to make the tournament field. Complete tournament pairings will be announced live on ESPNU at 11 a.m. Monday.
"We go home now and get ready for to play in a regional," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "Hopefully, we can rekindle some of that magic from last season (a run to the College World Series national championship finals). We have the third most league wins of any team in the league over the last four years, so our kids are winning some games against elite competition.
"To have 21 wins against conference foes this year says a lot. That has not happened a lot around here lately until recently. So we feel good about how we have played and how we are looking going into the postseason."
Against Florida, MSU held tough could not generate enough offense against the Florida duo of Danny Young and Justin Shafer. The Gators held the Bulldogs to six total hits and held a shutout until there were two outs in the eighth inning.
"We walked guys and gave them some runs," Cohen said. "Ironically, they beat us the same way that we like to beat teams. They won with their game plan, which is very similar to ours. So that is a little disappointing. We walked five batters and they walked none. We also made two mental mistakes. The mental mistakes really cost us in the ballgame."
Brandon Woodruff (1-3) drew the start for MSU and was lifted with one out in the fourth inning. Woodruff allowed five hits and three runs (two earned), with two walks. Ben Bracewell followed and worked 2.2 innings, allowing two hits and one run (earned). Vance Tatum, Dakota Hudson and Austin Sexton worked an inning apiece for the Bulldogs.
Florida built a 2-0 lead in the second inning when two hits and a walk loaded the bases. An infield error allowed a pair of runs to score. The Gators ran the lead to 4-0 on an RBI-single by Peter Alonso in the fourth inning and an RBI-single by Josh Tobias in the sixth inning. The Gators also scored on a ground out in the seventh inning.
The Bulldogs' best scoring threat came in the eighth inning. However, a sacrifice fly by Brett Pirtle was the lone damage.
MSU finished with a six-hit night, including three hits by C.T. Bradford.
Harrison Bader had three hits and Taylor Gushue had two hits for Florida, which totaled 10 hits and stranded 10 base runners.
Young drew the start and worked 4.1 innings, allowing four hits and no runs. In relief, Shafer (1-0) threw 4.2 innings of two-hit baseball to garner the win [via HailState.com]