Horne Wins Pitching Duel With Doolittle, 2-1

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Junior right-hander Alan Horne scattered nine hits and recorded the first complete-game by a Gator pitcher in 2005 as No. 10 Florida (34-17, 17-9 SEC) nipped Mississippi State 2-1 to clinch the SEC weekend series at McKethan Stadium/Perry Field. The win, coupled with LSU's Saturday victory over Tennessee, moved Florida into first place in the SEC East and in the league's overall standings.

It was third 2-1 loss in league play on the road this seasor for MSU, which has now dropped 15 of its last 17 games against Florida in Gainesville.

"Todd Doolittle pitched well enough today to win, but we were a play away here and a clutch hit away there from getting the job done," said Coach Ron Polk.

Mississippi State (32-18, 11-14 SEC) won the battle of the hits, with the Bulldogs out-hitting the Gators 9-4.

But Florida got a hit when it counted the most. A two-out chopper by Brian Jeroloman in the sixth inning bounced off the glove of freshman shortstop Bunky Kateon, scoring runners from second and third.

Jeroloman's hit spoiled a splendid pitching performance by State starter Todd Doolittle (4-7), who picked up another tough-luck loss. Doolittle blanked Florida with two-hit pitching over the first five frames. He walked Adam Davis to open the sixth and struck Matt LaPorta with a pitch. The runners advanced a base on Brian Leclerc's sacrifice bunt and Doolittle then fanned Brandon Archer, the third strikeout by the Bulldog senior for the inning's second out.

Jeroloman worked the count full before delivering his game-winning single, his second hit of the game. Doolittle gave up an infield single and walked another batter in the inning before giving way to relief pitcher Brett Cleveland, who worked out of the bases-loaded jam by retiring Jeff Corsaletti on a pop-up.

The Bulldogs, 1-for-7 in RBI opportunities on the day, scored their lone run in the seventh on a pinch-hit home run by freshman Mitch Moreland, his first home run and second extra-base hit of the campaign.

But MSU missed opportunities to take an early lead aganst Horne. Joseph Hunter and Jeff Butts collected consecutive two-out hits in the second and in the fourth Hunter walked and Butts reached with his second hit of the game, again with two outs. But in both cases Horne came back to slam the door by striking out Kateon.

The Bulldogs' most promising inning came in the eighth when Thomas Berkery lashed a double into the left-center gap and Brad Corley followed with a single to center field. With runners at the corners Brian LaNinfa lined out to center field and Hunter grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Brad Jones and Jeff Butts had two hits each, but five Bulldogs struck out a combined nine times as Horne went the distance for the second time in his collegiate career.

In 5.2 innings, Doolittle gave up two runs on four hits, struck out three and walked six, two intentionally. Brett Cleveland retired seven of the nine batters he faced in 2-1/3 innings of scoreless no-hit relief.

Sophomore Jon Crosby (5-2, 3.18) will start for the Bulldogs in Sunday's Noon (CDT) series finale.

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