Florida Defeats MSU 8-2

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Junior right-hander Bryan Ball pitched a career-longest 8-1/3 innings and the Gators scored seven runs on three home runs Friday night as No. 10 Florida (33-17, 16-9) registered an 8-2 win over Mississippi State (32-17, 11-13 SEC).

Ball gave up a run in the third and was charged with another after he left the game one out into the ninth inning. He allowed two runs on eight hits, walked five and struck out six, notching his first win since topping Mississippi March 18.

Florida struck for three runs in the first inning. A walk, a one-out single by Adam Davis and a Matt LaPorta blast to left, his 20th of the season, staked UF starter Bryan Ball to an early 3-0 lead.

State, which loaded the bases but failed to score in the first, punched across a run in the third to cut the lead to 3-1. Jeffrey Rea opened the inning with a double to left, took third on Ed Easley's chop single over the first baseman, and scored when Brad Jones grounded into a double play.

Florida expanded its lead in the fifth when the first five Gators reached safely. Gavin Dickey opened the frame with his third home run of the season off the scoreboard in right field. Davis followed with a single, Matt LaPorta drew a walk, and Brian LeClerc drove Davis home with a sharply-hit single to right. The Gators loaded the bases with another hit, but Johnson worked out of the jam, striking out Brian Jeroloman and getting Justin Tordi to ground into an inning-ending double play.

The Gators added a three-run, two-out home run by Brian Jeroloman to put the game away. Justin Pigott, who replaced Johnson to start the sixth, retired the three batters he faced in the inning and got the lead-off hitter in the eighth. Saunders Ramsey replaced Pigottt, sandwiching a pair of singles around a strikeout before Jeroloman unloaded his fifth home run of the season.

State added its final run in the eighth when Brian LaNinfa walked, advanced on a single by Michael Rutledge, and Rea delivered a single to left. UF relief ace Connor Falkenbach, the third Gator pitching in the inning, gave up a two-out pinch-hit single by Joseph McCaskill before retiring Thomas Berkery on a called third strike to end the game.

Johnson (3-6) took the loss, charged with five runs on eight hits with five strikeouts.

Matt LaPorta went 2-for-3 and with Brian Jeroloman drove in three runs to lead Florida. Freshman Ed Easley paced all hitters with three hits, all singles.

The Bulldogs left 11 runners stranded on base, seven in scoring position.

Florida and MSU continue their weekend series Saturday at 3 p.m. CDT.

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