Florida Defeats MSU 16-6

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Florida exploded for seven first-inning runs and Justin Hoyman pitched into the ninth inning Saturday afternoon as the 19th-ranked Gators (27-11, 7-7 SEC ) rolled to a 16-6 win over Mississippi State (22-13, 6-8 SEC) at Dudy Noble Field.

The Super Bulldog Weekend game drew a season-high 10,617, the 13th largest crowd at Dudy Noble Field and the 17th five-digit attendance at the Bulldogs' home park.

The Gators sent 11 batters to the plate in the first, parlaying four walks, a pair of singles, a Bulldog fielding error and a bases-clearing double by Jonathan Tucker into a seven-run lead for Hoyman. Junior right-hander Todd Doolittle (2-1), making his first SEC start, retired just one of the seven batters he faced in the inning.

"The seven spot that we put up in the first inning was huge for us," said Florida skipper Pat McMahon. "Justin really competed well for us today. He's had to battle some injuries lately. But we turned a couple of key double plays and those were significant in the outcome of the game."

Mississippi State closed the gap with a pair of runs in the second when Craig Tatum and Brad Corley singled up the middle and both scored when Brian LaNinfa's grounder was misplayed twice, by the UF shortstop and leftfielder.

But that was as close as the Bulldogs would get.

An inning later Florida plated seven more runs on two big swings, a towering career-first grand slam over the left field foul pole by C.J. Smith and a three-run blast to right-center field by Matt LaPorta. Both Smith and LaPorta finished the afternoon with five-RBI games. Tucker finished with three RBI.

The Bulldogs plated their next three runs with the long ball, a solo home run by Brad Jones to open the fourth and a two-run shot by Corley in the fifth.

Hoyman, who has battled injuries in his last two outings, allowed six runs on six hits with six strikeouts. He retired the first batter he faced in the ninth and then came out of the game after walking Thomas Berkery.

"He's one tough hombre," Bulldog head coach Ron Polk said of Hoyman. "He's 7-0 and they play with a lot of confidence behind him. I'm sure when they got the seven-run lead with him on the mound they said this was a "W". We had a chance when we scored the two runs, but like we did yesterday, they just expanded their lead today."

Lee Roberson got the final two outs, but not before State giving up a single to Tyler Scarbrough and a run-scoring grounder that was booted at shortstop.

Brooks Dunn followed Doolittle in the first and was charged with eight runs in 2.2 innings. Freshman Jon Crosby scattered six hits in a career-longest 5.0-inning relief stint, and another rookie pitcher, Andy Wilson, retired the three batters he faced in the ninth.

"We've had two games where each team has won convincingly, so it all boils down to Sunday's rubber game," said Polk. MSU and Florida conclude their three-game series Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Senior Jeff Lacher (3-4, 4.04) will start for State while Florida will counter with sophomore righty Bryan Ball (5-1, 3.86).

UF 700 700 020 --- 16-15-3
MSU 020 120 001 --- 6-7-1
WP - Justin Hoyman (7-0). LP - Todd Doolittle (2-1). HR - C.J. Smith (11), Matt LaPorta (8), Brad Corley (11), Brad Jones (5). T - 2:38. ATT - 10,323 (10617 paid).

Gene's Page Top Stories