Special to Gatorsports.com
STARKVILLE, Miss. — It was bound to happen.
Mississippi State defeated Florida 13-6 Saturday to take all three games of the baseball series from top-ranked Florida, which was swept for the first time since the SEC season-opening series at Auburn last year.
The Gators (41-15, 20-10 SEC) have now lost four consecutive games for the first time since May of 2013.
Mississippi State (31-24, 15-15) is 9-1 against Top-10 opponents this season, including a sweep of No. 6 Arkansas.
UF catcher JJ Schwarz was given the day off after bruising his throwing hand off a foul tip Friday night.
“We hit a lot of balls hard this weekend, but at the end of the day I thought we were in a good frame of mind,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We talked about refocusing and trying to get back on the winning track again.
“I thought we had some good at-bats in the first inning, we had the bases loaded there and would’ve liked to get another hit and maybe open it up a little bit. We didn’t get off to a good start on the mound, (Jake) Mangum hits the first pitch out for a home run.”
The SEC tournament begins Tuesday in Hoover, Ala. UF, the top seed, won’t play until Wednesday 5:30 p.m. (ET). The Gators will play the winner of the nine seed Mississippi State-eight seed LSU (33-23) game from Tuesday.
“Obviously you want to be playing your best baseball at the end of the year,” O’Sullivan said. “We just don’t have the ability to turn it on or turn it off when we want to. We’ll try to draw from this and get back on track in the SEC Tournament and go from there.”
Mississippi State used a six-run eighth inning to pull away. It was a back-and-forth game through seven innings.
Florida scored in the first inning, but Mississippi State hit a pair of homers in the bottom half of the inning to take a 4-1 lead.
The Gators responded with a pair of runs in the second to cut the deficit to one, but MSU pushed it back to three with two runs in the third.
A two-run homer from Deacon Liput in the second inning cut the deficit to one run. MSU went up 6-3 with two runs in the third.
Cal Greenfield hit a two-run home run to cut UF’s deficit to 6-5 in the fourth and Florida tied the game at 6-6 in the top of the sixth inning on Austin Langworthy’s RBI single.
In the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded, Rowdey Jordan grounded into a double play but it was enough to bring across the eventual winning run.
UF starter Jackson Kowar (9-3) suffered the loss, allowing seven runs on nine hits through 5.2 innings.
“It was just one of those days, one of those weekends,” O’Sullivan said. “I’m going to take some time to reflect back on the weekend. We just got beat in every phase. We talked about it this week after we tied for the SEC championship last Saturday that we needed to keep our edge. Obviously this weekend we weren’t able to do that. It was a weird weekend altogether, Brady (Singer) has to sit because of the hamstring, Tommy Mace goes 6.1 scoreless and has a great start but then our bullpen falters which it hasn’t done all year long.”