The totals Friday night read five Michigan State errors, four hit batsmen by five Michigan State pitchers and eight walks. Coupled with Florida's 14 hit attack that included three home runs and it was a night that the Spartans (5-5) would just as soon forget.
Michigan State had to be encouraged in the first five innings Saturday afternoon when starting pitcher Craig Brookes gave them five excellent innings, allowing just four hits and two runs. Michigan State was down only 2-1, looking more like a baseball team than the imitation of the Bad News Bears they were the night before.
Just when things looked good, Michigan State elected to go to the bullpen and as that baseball sage Yogi Berra would say, "It was déjà vu all over again." After five innings of great baseball, Murphy returned.
Brookes didn't allow a walk in his five innings. The five pitchers that followed him gave up eight hits, walked 10 Florida hitters and uncorked two wild pitches. Michigan State catcher Sean Walker committed three errors, two on throws that he sent sailing into left field, and four passed balls. The Spartans also turned a couple of routine fly balls into adventurous singles as a respectable game got way out of hand.
Florida cruised behind solid pitching from Tommy Boss, who improved his record to 3-0 with a five and two-thirds inning performance that matched his longest outing of the season. Boss walked only one and struck out four. He gave up his only run in the fourth when Michigan State used a walk, a wild pitch, a single and a double play grounder to get Ryan Basham in with their first run to tie the game at 1-1.
The Gators had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on a leadoff double by Jeff Corsaletti, a ground out and the first of Walker's four passed balls. Corsaletti tweaked a hamstring on the dash home so he sat the rest of the game. It's expected he will be back in action Sunday when the Gators take on Michigan State at 12 noon for the final game of the set at McKethan Stadium.
Florida regained the lead in the fourth when Adam Davis got hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on a single to left by Stephen Barton.
When Michigan State lifted Brookes in the sixth, Florida ran away with the game, batting around in both the sixth and seventh innings. Jared Kubin had a run-scoring single in the sixth inning and a two-run single in the seventh but the bulk of the damage against the Spartans was of the self-inflicted variety.
Florida Coach Pat McMahon was quite satisfied with the Gators defensively as they made it two straight games without an error. The good defense helped Boss who had his sinker going well enough to produce a couple of nice rally-snuffing double plays.
"You can show a young man where he has his priorities in the right order," said McMahon of his senior righthanded pitcher from Dunnellon. "Locating pitches, throwing the ball in the strike zone and giving the defense a chance to work is exactly successful pitching. You can equate that even more so to the fact that he pitched in advantage counts."
When Boss left with two out in the sixth, he was replaced by Connor Falkenbach, who turned in two and one-third innings of one-hit relief. Michigan State got a meaningless ninth inning run off freshman reliever Josh Edmonson.
When Florida concludes the series Sunday afternoon, the Gators will be starting freshman lefty Stephen Locke. Junior righthander Alan Horne, who has been a starter in the four previous weekends, has been given this weekend off to rest his arm. Horne had Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago so McMahon is making certain Horne doesn't overdo it.
"Right now, Alan Horne, as he's done a great job, we're trying to get him a little extra time off," said McMahon. "With the surgery and where he's at, it's in the club's best interest to do that."