The victory allowed the Gators to clinch the Southeastern Conference season-opening series. Florida improved to 15-3 overall and 2-0 in league play, while MSU fell to 11-8 and 0-2. Ironically, the Bulldogs had won the last two season series between the long-time rivals. The Bulldogs are now 3-2 in one-run games this season.
M-State plated two runs in the ninth inning but could not produce a game-tying score. In the ninth inning, Jet Butler ran his hit streak to a career-best 11 games with a leadoff double. After a groundout, a sacrifice fly by Russ Sneed plated Butler. Pinch-hitter Wes Thigpen reached as a hit batsman and stole second base. Nick Vickerson connected for an RBI-single but was stranded at first base when pitcher Luke Adkins fouled out to the pitcher, ending the game.
The Bulldogs received another strong pitching performance from freshman right-hander Chris Stratton. Stratton worked six innings, allowing four hits and one run (earned), with seven strikeouts and three walks.
Florida touched the Bulldog bullpen for four runs in the seventh inning. The script was familiar to the series opener where Florida scored five sixth-inning runs during a 7-2 victory.
With two outs, UF's Matt den Dekker beat out an infield bunt attempt to bring home the go-ahead run. After a double steal attempt netted another run, the Gators extended the lead on a two-run double by Preston Tucker.
Down 5-1, the Bulldogs began their rally by scratching a run in the eighth inning. Luke Adkins began that inning with a leadoff double - his third double of the game and sixth of the season. After a hit by Connor Powers, UF got a critical double play ball, forcing Powers and scoring Adkins.
Florida starting pitching again dominated Saturday night. Freshman left-hander Brian Johnson worked 6.1 innings, allowing five hits and one run (earned), with four strikeouts and two walks. Nick Maronde (2-0) worked the rest of the seventh inning and eighth inning to garner the win. Kevin Chapman overcame the Bulldog rally for his fourth save.
Chad Girodo (0-1) followed Stratton to the mound and took the loss. Greg Houston, C.C. Watson and Devin Jones also worked in relief for MSU.
Each team finished with nine hits. Following Adkins' three doubles came Powers with his 12th-mutlti-hit game and 33rd RBI of the season - a run-scoring hit which brought Adkins home for a 1-0 lead in the MSU third inning.
Defensively, Stratton worked out of two different innings where the first two Gators reached before Tucker tied the contest with his fourth home run in the UF sixth inning.
Tucker, Kamm Washington and Tyler Thompson each had multiple hits for the Gators, who won their fourth straight game.
The series finale is set for a noon CT first pitch Sunday. That contest will be televised regionally by Fox Sports Florida. MSU hosts Memphis at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Dudy Noble Field.