FINAL: No. 4 Florida 18, MSU 0

The buzz: Well, there was no buzz at Dudy Noble Field, as the 10,332 in attendance were quickly silenced by Florida’s early offensive outburst. MSU ace Chris Stratton was shelled and never made it out of the second inning, and State (21-10, 5-6 SEC) wound up suffering its worst loss since a 22-4 setback to Tennessee in 1998.

Big inning: Florida (25-7, 8-3) sent 12 batters to the plate in the second, when it scored eight runs on four hits. Stratton walked a couple and hit a batter, finally getting pulled with two outs and Florida leading 4-0. Reliever Chad Girodo entered, and his first pitch was crushed by Mike Zunino for a grand slam.

Key stats: Of Florida’s 18 runs scored, 17 were earned; MSU had just two hits after the fourth inning; UF’s pitchers threw a combined 125 pitches to MSU’s 212.

MSU at the plate: State had eight hits, three of them by Cody Freeman. Jarrod Parks had MSU’s lone extra-base hit, a double in the third inning. MSU stranded 11 baserunners.

Florida at the plate: The Gators pounded out 18 hits, and the big day belonged to Zunino, the catcher, who was 3 for 4 with four runs and five RBIs. Daniel Pigott had two hits and three RBIs. Nolan Fontana and Josh Adams each had two hits and two RBIs.

MSU on the mound: It was Stratton’s shortest career outing, and the sophomore (4-3) gave up seven runs on three hits, walking three and striking out none against 12 batters. Girodo got only one out, and he was followed by four more relievers.

Florida on the mound: Starter Brian Johnson (5-1) tossed six innings, allowing six hits and striking out three against no walks. He threw 87 pitches to 25 batters. Relievers Daniel Gibson and Matt Campbell were equally effective.

Bottom line: You figured Florida would bounce back, but this was bad all the way around. If you can’t count on Stratton being solid, what can you count on? Good news is, there’s another game to play tomorrow.

Quotable: “We had huge misses today. You can’t say anything ever, you can’t even discuss an umpire’s zone with your players when you’re missing that big. You don’t deserve to get one marginal call if you’re going to miss that big, and we had huge misses all day from everybody involved.” – MSU coach John Cohen

Up next: The rubber match is set for noon Sunday, with left-hander Nick Routt (0-1, 2.61) pitching for MSU versus Florida righty Karsten Whitson (4-0, 2.06).

Bonus: Maybe not the good kind of bonus, but since I went to the trouble of looking it up, here are the worst losses in MSU baseball history: 24-2, Florida State, 1966; 20-0, Vanderbilt, 1923; 29-10, Alabama, 1943; 20-1, Alabama, 1946; 22-4, Tennessee, 1998; 19-1, LSU, 1946.

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