By NEMS Daily Journal
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A five-run sixth inning proved decisive as Florida defeated Mississippi State 7-2 in a Southeastern Conference baseball game played Friday night at McKethan Stadium.
The sixth-ranked Gators won the conference opener for both teams, while improving to 14-3 overall and 1-0 in league play. MSU fell to 11-7 and 0-1.
The story Friday night was the pitching performance of UF ace Alex Panteliodis. After throwing seven innings of shutout baseball last weekend against Charleston Southern, Panteliodis again found a rhythm against the Bulldogs.
The sophomore left-hander threw a career-high 7.1 innings while moving to 5-0. His streak of 11 straight retired Bulldogs was snapped in the eighth inning on Wes Thigpen’s first career home run in the Maroon and White. MSU’s other score came on Nick Vickerson’s second home run of the year in the fourth inning.
Florida grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run double by Austin Maddox.
After Vickerson’s blast cut the deficit to 2-1, the Gators answered with their five-run sixth inning. After escaping the fifth inning with a double play ball, MSU started Kendall Graveman was touched for back-to-back home runs by Preston Tucker and Maddox to start the UF sixth inning. After a walk to Nolan Fontana, the Bulldogs went to the bullpen for Caleb Reed.
Reed hit a batter and walked another to load the bases. Tyler Thompson followed with a two-run single. A sacrifice fly by Matt den Dekker capped the scoring for the hosts.
The Bulldogs finished with five hits. Ryan Collins had a single and double for his fifth multi-hit game of the season. Jet Butler also had a single.
The Gators finished with seven hits. Tucker and Maddox were the lone multiple hitters for the Gators.
Graveman (1-1) worked 5-plus innings, allowing six hits and five runs (all earned), with four walks and no strikeouts. Reed worked the sixth and seventh innings. C.C. Watson got the final out in the seventh inning and also threw the eighth inning.
Pateliodis allowed four hits and two runs (both earned), with one walk and three strikeouts. Greg Larson completed the contest for UF.
The series resumes with a 6 p.m. CT start Saturday. The Bulldogs are slated to start freshman right-hander Chris Stratton (2-2, 2.95 ERA), while the Gators are slated to start freshman left-hander Brian Johnson (1-1, 5.52). The contest will be televised regionally by Comcast Sports Southeast.
The noon CT Sunday series finale will air regionally on FS Florida.