Florida pitching continues to dominate

At a point in the Southeastern Conference Tournament when most teams are scrambling to find capable pitching, the Gators are at their best. Florida's deep pitching staff continued to shine on Friday, allowing only six hits and no walks while the offense did enough. The Gators beat Mississippi State 5-1 to advance to Saturday's semifinal.

Starting pitcher Danny Young combined with Justin Shafer to complete the game, allowing the only run in the eighth inning when Florida had the game under control. They combined for five strikeouts and gave up two extra base hits -- both doubles.

Young bounced back after a shaky start at Tennessee on Saturday, proving he's capable of serving as Florida's third starter in the NCAA Tournament if the matchups dictate it. He went 4.1 shutout innings, allowing four hits and no walks while striking out two. The outing lowered his ERA to 2.23.

Shafer threw the final 4.2 innings to get the win. He gave up two hits and one run while striking out three hitters.

"The pitching was outstanding," Kevin O'Sullivan said. Danny [Young] gave us a really good start and Shafer I think had his longest outing of the year. He threw the ball really, really well against a really tough lineup with a lot of left-handed hitters. We didn't walk anybody and didn't make any errors. When we do that we usually end up playing pretty good and it ends up being a pretty good game for us."

The starting rotation is still not clear behind ace Logan Shore, but this week has provided exactly what Kevin O'Sullivan wanted from the group. It showed that he has options for the NCAA Tournament, and all of the options had strong outings in what are likely their final appearances before the NCAA Tournament.

A.J. Puk, Bobby Poyner and Young combined to allow two runs in 13.1 innings at the SEC Tournament and will all be options to start games during next weekend's NCAA Regionals.

The Florida offense got hits from seven of its nine starters. The only two starters without a hit were at the top of the lineup with second baseman Casey Turgeon, who hit multiple balls hard, and shortstop Richie Martin.

The Gators loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning. Two runs scored when Pete Alonso hit a ground ball that was misplayed by shortstop Seth Heck. Alonso added an RBI single in the fourth inning.

A Josh Tobias RBI single drove in a two-out run in the sixth inning, and Taylor Gushue had an RBI ground out the next inning to score Florida's fifth and final run.

Harrison Bader went 3-5 at the plate and has gone 7-12 in Florida's three SEC Tournament games.

"I thought tonight was an all-around really good game," O'Sullivan said. "We had some really at bats, obviously [Harrison] Bader had a big night and [Taylor] Gushue had a couple of hits. Turgeon hit the ball hard multiple times and we did enough.

Florida will play Kentucky on Saturday in a game that starts 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first semifinal between LSU and Arkansas, which starts at 1 p.m. ET. The Florida game is projected to start at 4:30 p.m. The Wildcats have won three of the four matchups with the Gators this season.

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