Gators eliminate Bulldogs for SEC semifinals berth

Florida freshman Peter Alonso led the Gators at the plate with two RBIs and a run scored in a 5-1 win over Mississippi State in the SEC tournament on Friday at Hoover, Ala.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/File
Published: Friday, May 23, 2014 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 23, 2014 at 10:25 p.m.

HOOVER, Ala. — Top-seeded Florida used all three facets of its game Friday to advance to the semifinals of the SEC baseball tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium by defeating fifth-seeded Mississippi State 5-1.

The Gators (39-20), ranked No. 7 in the nation by Baseball America, will play ninth-seeded Kentucky (35-22) in one semifinal late this afternoon (about 4:30 p.m.). Today’s other semifinal pits seventh-seeded Arkansas (38-22) against third-seeded Louisiana State (42-14-1) at 1 p.m. (both semis will be televised on ESPNews). Today’s winners meet for the tournament title at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Razorbacks eliminated second-seeded Ole Miss 8-7 earlier Friday. Ole Miss dropped to 41-18.

UF had 10 hits, including a triple and double, to help produce its runs and the Gators kept the Bulldogs (37-22) off the scoreboard through seven innings behind stellar defense and the pitching of starter Danny Young, who went 4.1-scoreless innings, and reliever Justin Shafer (1-0). Shafer earned the win after pitching the final 4.2 innings, giving up one hit, one earned run and striking out three.

“It’s one of those deals where you just try to play your best and hang on to play another day,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I thought tonight was an all-around really good game. We had some really at-bats.

“The pitching was outstanding. Danny gave us a really good start and Shafer I think had his longest outing of the year. He threw the ball really, really well against a really tough lineup with a lot of left-handed hitters. We didn’t walk anybody and didn’t make any errors. When we do that we usually end up playing pretty good and it ends up being a pretty good game for us.”

The Gators scored two runs in the second inning thanks to an error at shortstop on a ball hit by designated hitter Peter Alonso.

Alonso gave UF a 3-0 lead when he singled to drive in Braden Mattson, who opened the fourth inning with a triple.

Josh Tobias made it 4-0 with an RBI single in the sixth.

A Taylor Gushue groundout scored Richie Martin in the seventh inning for a 5-0 lead.

MSU scored its run in the eighth inning after a couple of singles and a sacrifice fly.

“I’m really pleased with how we’re playing and that’s a mark of maturity for these young players,” O’Sullivan said. “Sometimes their bats don’t quite go the way they want to but they play good defense. We made some really good plays tonight and I’m really pleased with how we played tonight defensively.”

Note: Left fielder Buddy Reed made a highlight play for UF, diving for a catch to end the bottom of the third. … Harrison Bader had three hits for the Gators.

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