GAINESVILLE, Fla., – No. 5 Mississippi State continued its winning ways on SEC Weekends.
The Bulldogs won the final two games at top-ranked Florida to take their fourth conference series. MSU edged the Gators 2-1 on Sunday to earn their first series win over a No. 1 ranked team during the John Cohen era.
“Our kids just believe and are gutting it out,” Cohen said. “Every single pitch, they’re into the game situationally. I couldn’t be more proud of those guys. I told them this is a marathon and we ain’t even halfway through the marathon yet so we’ve got to keep on focusing and keep on working.”
Mississippi State (23-9-1, 8-4 SEC) continues to lead the Western Division and joins Kentucky as the only two teams to win all four SEC series.
Entering the weekend, the Diamond Dogs had struggled on the mound during the third game thus far in league play but were able to keep Florida off the board through 8 2/3 innings.
Konnor Pilkington threw the first four scoreless frames and was relieved by Zac Houston, who improved to 2-0. Houston logged 3 1/3 innings with three strikeouts and only allowing two walks and a hit.
“He just beat people with his fastball and said ‘here it comes’,” Cohen said. “He beat people over and over again, not just on the strikeouts. He beat people to the barrel and got pop ups and late swings. He looked like what Zac Houston should look like today. I’m really proud of him and he just went out there and competed his heart out for us.”
Reid Humphreys came in from left field to pick up his third save. Humphreys recorded the final five outs and gave up the only run on a solo homer to Peter Alonso with two outs in the ninth.
State collected nine hits on the day led by Elih Marrero, who was 3-for-5 with an RBI single in the seventh and Brent Rooker was 2-for-4 with a double. Ryan Gridley homered in the fifth frame and John Holland had a pinch hit double in the seventh.
“We got some big hits when it really mattered,” Cohen said. “You can’t say enough about Elih Marrero and what he did, not only behind the plate but offensively today. That was a huge second run.”
The Gators (29-5, 8-4) were limited to six hits and lost their first series at home to MSU since 2007.
Dane Dunning took the loss lasting five innings surrendering a run on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Dunning started in place of A.J. Puk, who was held out due to back stiffness.
The Diamond Dogs return home against Memphis Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
(From Staff Reports)