Gators Open SEC Tourney Against MSU

HOOVER, Ala.- The Gators lead the conference with 31 SEC Tournament appearances, but their most recent of five tournament titles came in 1991. Florida hasn't experienced much success in recent years at Regions Park. The Gators begin their quest for the program's first tournament title in 20 years on Wednesday when they take on Mississippi State.

It will be a rematch between the teams that faced off in Starkville, Miss., earlier this season. The Gators took the series, but it didn't come easy. The Bulldogs won the first game of the series by pounding Florida starter Hudson Randall, as he lasted a season low 2.1 innings. The Gators fought back, but it fell short and Mississippi State won the series opener 7-5.

Florida responded during the second game of the series to put up an 18-0 win. Mike Zunino hit a grand slam while Daniel Pigott, Jeff Moyer, Josh Adams and Nolan Fontana each drove in multiple runs. Brian Johnson threw six scoreless innings.

The Gators won a pitcher's duel on Sunday 3-1 to take the series. Karsten Whitson allowed a run in 5.1 innings, and Florid head coach Kevin O'Sullivan mixed and matched five bullpen arms to keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard any more.

Wednesday's matchup will feature two pitchers that didn't start a game during the weekend series, as both coaches elected not to rush their weekend starters back on short rest. Mississippi State will send freshman Evan Mitchell (5-1, 3.48) to the mound. He threw three innings of relief against Florida in the 18-0 Gators win, and Mitchell allowed four hits and three runs (two earned).

In 33.2 innings on the mound this season, Mitchell has recorded 34 strikeouts and allowed 35 hits for a .263 batting average against.

Florida will send Tommy Toledo (3-3, 3.10) to the mound. The redshirt junior threw two-thirds of an inning during the Sunday game at Mississippi State, allowing a hit and a walk but no runs.

Arkansas and Alabama will play the first game of the day at 10:30 a.m. EST, and Florida-Mississippi State will begin 30 minutes after the first game concludes.

It will be the first meeting between Florida and Mississippi State at the SEC Tournament since 2002 when No. 3 seed Florida eliminated the No. 7 seed Bulldogs behind a six-hit shutout from Keith Ramsey.

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