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MSU baseball falls to Florida 2-1

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) — Another Top 10 crowd jammed into Dudy Noble Field Saturday afternoon for some college baseball activity.

However, Mississippi State could not pull out the win, falling 2-1 to sixth-ranked Florida in a Southeastern Conference pitcher’s duel. With the win, the Gators clinched the Super Bulldog Weekend series.

A crowd of 13,004 marked the 10th biggest crowd in the program’s history and the largest of the season. However, the large Maroon and White contingent cheered mainly a brilliant performance from Preston Brown and Trevor Fitts and another defensive masterpiece.

“It was an outstanding crowd, really thankful for everybody who came out and supported today,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “I was disappointed that they couldn’t see a win. Overall, pleased with the effort, the kids battling their hearts out right now. Pleased with the effort but not happy with the performance.”

With the win, Florida improved to 30-10 overall and 11-6 in league play, while MSU fell to 22-18 and 6-11.

Brown (5-4) pitched 6.1 innings, allowing nine hits and two runs (both earned), with two strikeouts and no walks. Fitts finished the contest, facing 10 batters in 2.2 innings of relief.

“Preston was outstanding today,” Cohen said. “He did a great job early in counts, getting ahead of hitters. We don’t walk any batters and don’t make any errors. However, you have to score more than one run in this environment. One run will not win you the game often.”

The Florida pitching trio of Dane Dunning, Aaron Rhodes and Bobby Poyner proved up to the task for the Gators. Dunning was lifted with one out in the sixth inning. Rhodes (1-0) faced three batters in one inning of work to garner the win. Bobby Poyner allowed one hit in 2.2 innings of scoreless relief for his third save.

Florida built a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. Josh Tobias reached with a one-out single. After a groundout, Peter Alonso continued his hot weekend with an RBI-single.

MSU answered in its half of the fourth inning when Jacob Robson singled, took second and third on a wild pitch and later scored on an RBI-single by Wes Rea. A double play snuffed that threat and the Bulldogs managed three base runners the rest of the way.

Florida grabbed the lead in the seventh inning on an RBI-single by Ryan Larson.

Florida finished with 11 hits. Alonso had three hits, while Richie Martin had two hits.

MSU was held to five hits and had no multiple hitters.

The series finale is set for 2 p.m. Sunday and will be televised nationally by ESPNU.





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