Zunino’s bomb powers Gators to series victory

A solo home run by junior catcher Mike Zunino in the eighth inning on Sunday powered No. 5 Florida Gators baseball past the No. 25 Mississippi State Bulldogs 2-1 and delivered the team’s second series victory in as many weekends.

Florida (38-14, 16-11 SEC) took down Mississippi State (31-20, 13-14 SEC) on Friday (4-1) before being shutout for only the second time this season on Saturday (2-0). Sunday’s 2-1 triumph marked UF’s fifth win in the last seven games and a victory in their final home series of the regular season.

The Bulldogs and Gators each posted zeroes in the first two innings before both scoring a single run in their respective frame in the third inning. MSU’s came via a solo shot while UF’s crossed the plate thanks to a rally concluded by a RBI groundout by senior right fielder Preston Tucker (0/4, RBI).

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson got the start for Florida but lasted just 3.1 innings. He struck out four and allowed just two hits and an earned run but coughed up five walks, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch as well.

Five Gators relievers closed out the contest for Whitson with juniors lefty Steven Rodriguez and RHP Austin Maddox doing most of the heavy lifting. Rodriguez struck out three and walked two in 2.0 innings while Maddox (3-2) pitched the final 2.1 innings and struck out two. He received the victory thanks to the game-winning bomb by Zunino (1/2, HR, RBI, R, 2 BB) in the eighth.

Florida committed three errors in the contest but none led to runs.

UF will take on Samford on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and will remain in the state of Alabama to conclude the regular season with a three-game series against Auburn.

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