Florida preview

Austin Sexton has appeared in eight games as a true freshman. (Lee Adams/ Special to the Daily Journal)

Austin Sexton has appeared in eight games as a true freshman. (Lee Adams/ Special to the Daily Journal)

Mississippi State will play for a second time on Friday with its 12-inning 7-6 loss to Kentucky spilling over into the wee morning hours from Thursday.

As a result of the loss, the Bulldogs missed out on a bye and are forced to play top-seeded Florida tonight in an elimination game.

A win would put MSU in the SEC Tournament semifinals for the third straight season. The Diamond Dogs are vying for their eighth SEC Tournament title and are now 62-47 all-time at the event.

State is 6-7 against Florida in the SEC Tournament last meeting in 2011, a 7-5 Gator victory.

Florida leads the all-time series 59-42 but tonight will be their first meeting this season. The Bulldogs took two of three from the Gators in Starkville in 2013.

John Cohen’s club is hitting .276 with 15 home runs and averaging five runs per game. Mississippi State maintains a .981 fielding percentage and are 64-of-90 on stolen base attempts.

Senior second baseman Brett Pirtle leads the team with 76 hits and a .344 batting average. Pirtle has reached base in 63 straight games against SEC opponents. Junior first baseman Wes Rea has hit four home runs while senior infielder Alex Detz has driven in 39 runs. Senior outfielder Derrick Armstrong has swiped 13 bases.

The Diamond Dogs pitching staff has compiled a 2.88 earned run average with 479 strikeouts and 188 walks in 527.1 innings of work. Their opponents are batting .241 against them with a dozen long balls.

Junior reliever Jacob Lindgren has a staff-low 0.88 ERA with 93 strikeouts. Junior All-American closer Jonathan Holder has seven saves on the spring and 37 for his career.

Neither MSU or Florida has named a starting pitcher for tonight’s game. Cohen mentioned Brandon Woodruff, Preston Brown and Ben Bracewell as possibilities following Thursday’s game. Brown and Bracewell pitched in relief against the Wildcats.

The Gators are 38-20 overall on the year and are 1-1 so far in the SEC Tournament. After receiving a first round bye, Florida lost 4-2 to Kentucky before bouncing back with a 7-2 win over South Carolina on Thursday.

Kevin O’Sullivan’s squad is hitting .268 on the year with 26 homers and scoring 4.7 runs a game. The Gators sport a .974 fielding percentage and have swiped 53 bases in 76 tries.

Junior catcher Taylor Gushue hits at a .329 clip with a team-high 68 hits, six home runs and 48 RBI. Sophomore shortstop Richie Martin is Florida’s top base thief with 16 steals.

The Gators hurlers have a 3.31 staff ERA with 402 strikeouts and 165 walks in 530.2 innings. Their opposition is batting .252 against them with 33 long balls.

Relievers Tyler Deel and Jay Carmichael both maintain a flawless ERA while freshman Logan Shore is the strikeout leader with 62. Junior Ryan Harris has closed out five of Florida’s 20 team saves.

Today’s game will start at approximately 6:30 p.m. televised on CSS.

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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