April 7, 2013 5:19:36 PM
STARKVILLE - Just about everything that could go wrong in the fifth inning for the Mississippi State University baseball program did.
The Bulldogs, who were trying to go for their first sweep of the University of Florida since 1989, gave up a season-high eight runs in the fifth frame in a 8-3 defeat to the Gators.
It was an inning where MSU (26-9, 5-7 in Southeastern Conference) lost its starting pitcher to another injury as Jacob Lindgren left with an apparent ankle injury after slipping on a bunt attempt to the right side of the pitching mound. Three other MSU pitches combined to allow the eight runs to cross and all but guarantee Florida (15-18, 5-7) would salvage a victory in the weekend series in Starkville.
"I feel like we had one bad inning this week and certainly that was the fifth," Cohen said. "We don't field two bunts when they're giving us two outs. That's the key to the ball game."
The eight runs was the most scored by Florida in a single inning all season after the surpassed the six-run explosion on the opening weekend against Duke University in a 16-5 home victory on Feb. 17. The Gators sent 12 batters to the plate, with the first seven reaching base, against four pitchers during a painfully long inning that saw 7,660 slowly finding the exits Sunday afternoon.
"One game and one win makes a huge difference in this league," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We're staying close enough to .500 mark to be in striking distance later in the season. It was a really big game for us."
The Gators had been held to a .207 batting average over the first two days of the series with only four extra-base hits. O'Sullivan said his coaching staff made the strategic decision to bunt every time they got a runner at first base because the Gators were tired of grounding into double plays the first two days of the weekend. That strategy paid off as a error by MSU third baseman Sam Frost in that fifth frame gave UF the final lead of the game.
"I feel like we're on the verge of doing some special things but for us to do that, we have to defend," Cohen said. "We didn't defend in that one inning and we have to get back to our identity but we are not going to get down based off just one inning even though certainly it was a bad one."
Florida broke the game open on the batter immediately after Lindgren (2-1) left the game as pinch hitter Connor Mitchell laced a triple down the right field line to clear the loaded bases and give the Gators only its second lead of the weekend. Mitchell had been hitting only .211 this season in 38 at-bats off MSU freshman right-hander Myles Gentry.
"He was going to the bathroom (and) we had to yell in there 'get him out there'," O'Sullivan said. "It was a big at-bat (because) they went to the side-arm guy and it was the right matchup for us right there."
Lindgren, who was making his first start since suffering tightness and pain in his left elbow last week, was led off the field by the MSU training staff and into the tunnel of the locker room after suffering the injury with four completed innings. Lindgren has hampered by injuries to his right knee, left elbow and
now his right ankle. Cohen said after the game be believed Lindgren "would be just fine" as he apparently just rolled the ankle moving to his right side.
"He threw the ball really well and just twisted his ankle so he had to come out of the game," Cohen said. "He knew it right away (that he had to come out) by signaling to us but I knew we were making a pitching change and had to talk about it with Butch to see who we would go with in that situaiton."
Florida turned its pitching effort to sophomore right-hander Johnny Magliozzi (3-1), the Gators typical closer, to pitch 5 2/3 innings and only give up one run on two hits after the first frame.
Magliozzi was making his first start of the 2013 season after not being used the first two days and the Gators coaching staff keeping normal Friday night starting pitcher Jay Carmichael back in Gainesville, Fla., this weekend for unknown reasons.
The last time MSU swept Florida in a weekend series Cohen was a junior outfielder for the Bulldogs playing for head coach Ron Polk. Cohen walked away from Dudy Noble Field Sunday afternoon more than impressed with a youthful Florida bullpen that allowed just two runs in 10 1/3 innings of relief this weekend.
"I don't know if I've seen a team in all of college baseball throw it over 95 miles per hour than this Florida club we saw this weekend," Cohen said. "When you look at the stats of their pitchers and then look at their stuff, those just don't match up. I bet in the second half here it wouldn't shock me to see them get it going."
MSU will make its second and last trip to Trustmark Park in Pearl Tuesday for the Governors Cup game against the University of Mississippi in a 6:30 p.m. first pitch. Sophomore right-hander Brandon Woodruff (1-1, 4.15) is scheduled to make his sixth mid-week start of the 2013 season.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
2. Sunday at the Bluff today explores biology ENTERTAINMENT
3. Big Band experience returns to Golden Triangle ENTERTAINMENT
5. St. Paul's announces Valentine's Day organ recital ENTERTAINMENT