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No. 6 Mississippi State baseball opens SEC Tournament with 13-1 loss to No. 13 Florida

Bulldogs fall to 40-14.

Mississippi State Athletics

HOOVER, Ala. — The third-seeded Mississippi State baseball team was run-ruled 13-1 by sixth-seeded Florida on Wednesday at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in its first game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

The Bulldogs (40-14) were held to just four hits, while the Gators (37-19) compiled 18 hits and exploded for nine runs in the first three innings.

Junior pitcher Brandon Smith (4-3) got the start for the Bulldogs and allowed six runs on eight hits in two innings. He struck out one batter and walked two.

Junior Cam Tullar then pitched the third inning and allowed three runs on four hits with one strikeout and one walk. Freshman Cade Smith tossed two scoreless innings, while junior Eric Cerantola tossed a scoreless sixth inning. Sophomore KC Hunt pitched the final inning and allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits.

Florida freshman starting pitcher Hunter Barco (10-2) tossed all seven innings for the Gators and fanned two batters.

The Gators jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Sophomore Jacob Young led off with a double to left-center field and freshman Nathan Hickey followed with a single to put runners on the corners, Sophomore Jud Fabian walked to load the bases before a wild pitch scored Young.

The Bulldogs tied the game in the bottom half of the first inning when senior Tanner Allen doubled to right-center and scored on junior Luke Hancock’s RBI single.

In the top of the second inning, freshman Josh Rivera led off with a single before freshman Mac Guscette hit a one-out single up the middle to put runners on the corners. Rivera scored on Young’s sacrifice fly before Hickey singled and Fabian drew a walk to load the bases. Sophomore Kris Armstrong then hit a two-RBI single through the right side to give Florida a 4-1 lead.

The Gators poured on five more runs in the top of the third inning. Freshman Sterlin Thompson led off with a home run before Rivera singled and sophomore Cory Acton drew a walk. Guscette then sacrificed the runners up a base and Young followed with a two-RBI single up the middle. Hickey then hit a single and Armstrong brought both runners home with a two-RBI double to left field to make it a 9-1 ballgame.

In the top of the seventh inning, Hickey reached first on a fielding error before Fabian and Armstrong hit back-to-back singles to load the bases. Hickey scored on a sacrifice fly before Thompson’s double down the right-field line scored two more runs. Rivera plated Thompson with a single to end the game’s scoring.

The Bulldogs will be back in action Thursday for an elimination game against the loser of Tennessee and Alabama at 9:30 a.m. CT. The game will be streaming n SEC Network+.