Gators edge MSU in finale

Published 11:31 am Monday, April 11, 2011

Mississippi State bounced back from a beating Sunday, but didn’t quite have enough to avenge it.

Preston Tucker’s two-run single in the top of the seventh inning snapped a 1-all tie, and Florida escaped a couple of late jams to beat the Bulldogs 3-1 in the series finale at Dudy Noble Field.

Mississippi State left nine runners on base in the game, including two in the eighth inning and three in the ninth. After loading the bases with one out, Florida closer Austin Maddox got a pair of fly outs to end the game.

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Although the Bulldogs (21-11, 5-7 Southeastern Conference) played better than in Saturday’s 18-0 loss to the Gators (26-7, 9-3), it wasn’t enough to win the series. MSU missed a chance to gain ground on SEC West leader Alabama, which was swept by Vanderbilt.

“We did a lot of average things bad today,” Mississippi State coach John Cohen said. “We didn’t have a good day. Our kids kept fighting and I am proud of that. We’ll correct what we need to and keep fighting.”

Wes Thigpen’s RBI single in the second inning put Mississippi State ahead 1-0, but Maddox answered with an RBI single in the fourth to tie it. Each pitching staff controlled the game from there. Florida used six pitchers, including five relievers who combined for 3 2/3 shutout innings. Mississippi State’s bullpen allowed two runs in four innings. Luis Pollorena (3-1) was charged with both runs and took the loss.

The only blemish on the Bulldogs’ sheet came in the seventh. After getting the first two outs, Pollorena gave up a base hit to Zack Powers and a walk to Nolan Fontana. An error loaded the bases, and Tucker’s single brought in two runs to give the Gators a 3-1 lead.

Mississippi State will return to action on Wednesday, when it heads to Birmingham to complete a suspended game against UAB. The teams were in the sixth inning on March 9 when rain halted play. UAB will hold a 4-3 lead when play resumes.