FINAL: No. 4 Florida 3, MSU 1

The buzz: There was strong pitching all around, but a two-out error by shortstop Jonathan Ogden – his second miscue of the game – kept the seventh inning alive for Florida, and Preston Tucker ripped a two-run single to center field to give the Gators (26-7, 9-3 SEC) the winning margin. MSU (21-11, 5-7) loaded the bases in the ninth with one out, but UF made two outstanding defensive plays to seal the victory and the series.

Big inning: That’d be the aforementioned seventh, in which MSU reliever Luis Pollorena retired the first two hitters before allowing a single and a walk. Then came Ogden’s error – a routine ground ball got underneath him, and he couldn’t get a handle on it – and Tucker came through.

Key stats: MSU was 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position today, and 3 for 21 on the weekend. Each pitching staff recorded eight strikeouts today. UF had 13 flyball outs, four groundouts.

MSU at the plate: MSU had eight hits in 34 at-bats. Nobody had more than one hit, and the RBI belonged to Wes Thigpen, who stroked a two-out, bases-loaded RBI single in the second inning. Adam Frazier also tried to score on the hit but was called out on what looked like a blown call.

Florida at the plate: The Gators collected nine hits, including three in a row in the fourth to tie the score at 1-1. Tucker had the two RBIs, while Austin Maddox had two hits, including an RBI single in the fourth.

MSU on the mound: Lefty Nick Routt had his longest and best outing of the season, logging five innings and tossing 88 pitches. He was pulled after facing one batter in the sixth, and his final line read thusly: one run (earned), six hits, five strikeouts and one walk. The loss was pinned on Pollorena (3-1). Caleb Reed and C.T. Bradford combined for 2.1 innings of shutout work.

Florida on the mound: Freshman Karsten Whitson threw 5.1 innings, allowing one run (earned) on five hits, striking out three while walking two on 84 pitches. Five relievers combined to allow no runs on three hits, with Maddox getting the last two outs for his first save.

Bottom line: MSU was competitive in two of the three games, winning 7-5 on Friday but getting blown out 18-0 on Saturday. The pitching has been good more often than not, but the timely hitting is starkly absent.

Quotable: “I think all of them are disappointed, but they never stopped competing. I’m proud of them for that, but the competing stuff needs to end at some point in time, and a W needs to step forward.” – MSU coach John Cohen

Up next: MSU will resume a game at UAB (18-13) at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The game was postponed by rain on March 9 with MSU leading 4-3 in the sixth inning.

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