Grand slam helps Gators earn first round win in SEC Baseball Tournament
Florida sophomore Brian Johnson hit a grand slam in the seventh inning to turn a 5-2 deficit into an eventual 7-5 victory for No. 3 seed Florida over sixth-seeded Mississippi State on the opening day of the 2011 SEC Tournament Wednesday.
With their first win since 2005 in the initial round of the event, the Gators (42-15) will now play No. 7 seed Alabama (33-24) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in a winner’s bracket game. The game will be televised on Sun Sports. Mississippi State (34-22) will meet second-seeded Arkansas (36-19) at 10:30 a.m. in the first elimination game of the five-day tournament.
With the Gators trailing by a 5-2 score entering the bottom of the seventh, senior Bryson Smith was hit by a pitch and junior Preston Tucker of Tampa, drew a walk from freshman Taylor Stark to cause a pitching change.
Sophomore Luis Pollorena (6-5) came in for Stark (1.0 IP, 2 BB) and surrendered a single into center field to sophomore Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (2-for-5) that loaded the bases with none out. Johnson sent a fly ball into right field that appeared to be headed foul but instead cleared the right-field wall in fair territory to empty the bases and give Florida 6-5 lead.
Florida added an insurance run in the eighth on a two-out RBI single by Tucker.