Gators send Bulldogs packing

Florida's Buddy Reed makes a diving catch against Mississippi State during the third inning Friday. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Florida’s Buddy Reed makes a diving catch against Mississippi State during the third inning Friday. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

HOOVER, Ala. – Mississippi State’s bid to advance to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament for a third straight season fell short on Friday night.

The Bulldogs were shut down by top-seeded Florida 5-1 and eliminated with a 2-2 showing in the tournament, following a 12-inning loss to Kentucky late Thursday.

“It would be great to win it of course, but win or lose it’s good preparation for a Regional, Super Regional or back to Omaha which is our ultimate goal,” said MSU pitcher Ben Bracewell. “We wanted to win tonight and win this tournament but we’re looking at it as preparation for the run we’re about to make.”

The 18th-ranked Diamond Dogs (37-22) had six hits Friday night against Florida led by C.T. Bradford, who was 3-for-4 with three singles.

Streak ends

Brett Pirtle saw his 63 game streak of reaching base against SEC opponents snapped with an eighth inning sacrifice fly that scored State’s lone run.

Florida (39-20) advances to play Kentucky at approximately 3:30 p.m. today on ESPNews. The Gators collected 10 hits against the Bulldogs led by Harrison Bader, who went 3-for-5 with a double.

Justin Shafer won his first decision of the season pitching 42⁄3 innings of relief giving up a run on two hits with three strikeouts.

“We didn’t defend well and to Florida’s credit they did,” said MSU skipper John Cohen. “(Florida) shoved it in the strike zone and didn’t walk anybody and we walked five.”

Brandon Woodruff (1-3) suffered the loss as his start lasted just 31⁄3 frames. Woodruff allowed two earned runs on five hits with a pair of walks.

State will now await its NCAA Regional fate. Regional selections will be made Monday at 11 a.m. on ESPNU.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com