Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

No. 10 MSU Baseball Evens SEC series by knocking off top-ranked Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A Cody Brown grand slam highlighted a red-hot start that carried the No. 10 Mississippi State baseball team to a 10-4 victory over No. 1 Florida in a Southeastern Conference baseball game played Saturday night at McKethan Stadium. (Article Source: MSU Athletics Media Relations)

MSU will now play for its fourth series victory in the rubber match of the series Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 22-9-1 overall and 7-4 in league play, while also holding onto sole possession of first place in the Western Division. Florida fell to 29-4 and 8-3. The Gators fell out of first place in the overall standings.

"The kids came out and had some nice, short, efficient swings early in the game," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "Austin (Sexton) gave up hits because we were asking him to throw strikes with the big lead. Can't say enough about Ryan Rigby. He just kept pouring strikes into the zone.

"This is a great win for our club. We have a chance to win a series against the No. 1 team in the nation."

Florida also saw a 29-game home win streak snapped after the MSU offense cranked out the most runs allowed by the Gators in a game this season. Brown's grand slam was the first allowed by UF pitching since 2014. MSU beat the nation's No. 1 team for the first time since beating LSU on May 2, 2015.

After a disappointing 8-2 loss in the series opener, the Bulldogs struck immediately Saturday with four first-inning runs.

Jake Mangum, Elih Marrero and Nathaniel Lowe opened the game with consecutive singles. Gavin Collins reached as a hit batsman to force in a run. Reid Humphreys followed with a two-run double. Ryan Gridley brought home another run with a ground ball out.

In the third inning, the Bulldogs went deep to expand the lead.

Lowe started things with a double. Collins beat out a bunt for an infield hit. Humphreys walked to load the bases. Brown then homered to right center for his second grand slam. Brent Rooker followed with a one-out single and scored on a triple by Mangum.

Florida answered with a three-run home run by Buddy Reed in the third inning.

From there, things were silent but the damage had been done.

Florida scored its final run in the eighth inning, but MSU countered with a Ryan Gridley sacrifice fly in the ninth inning.

Rigby (4-1) pitched the final five innings, in relief of starter Sexton, to get the win. Rigby allowed four hits and one run (earned), with four strikeouts and a walk. Sexton allowed eight hits and three runs (all earned) in four innings of work.

MSU collected 14 hits. Mangum and Lowe each had three hits, while Marrero, Collins and Humphreys each had two hits. Brown matched a career high with four RBIs.

Florida collected 12 hits. Jeremy Vasquez and Reed each had three hits. Alex Faedo (6-1) pitched five innings, while suffering his first loss.

MSU and Florida finish the series with a 3 p.m. CT start Sunday. That contest will be televised nationally on the SEC Network.

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