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Mississippi State 14, Florida 13

May 31, 1998

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Mississippi State scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning to offset a late Florida threat, and the Bulldogs held on for a 14-13 victory on Friday night at the College World Series.

Barry Patton had a leadoff home run and Richard Lee added a two-out single that drove in two runs as No. 8 seeded Mississippi State (42-21) broke away from a 10-8 lead going into the ninth.

Florida (46-17) rallied with five runs in the bottom of the ninth but joined Florida State (1991) and Miami (1994) as the only top-seeded teams to lose in the first round since the NCAA began seeding the field in 1988.

With the victory, the Bulldogs (42-21) advanced to meet two-time defending national champion LSU (47-17) in Monday’s second round. Florida plays Southern Cal (44-17) in a game that sends the loser home.

Trailing 14-8 and coming to bat in the ninth, the Gators started with a one-out single by Ty Martin that scored Derek Nicholson. After Mark Ellis walked to load the bases, reliever Chris Reinike walked Matt Siegel to give Florida another run.

Side-armed right-hander Van Johnson came in to face Brad Wilkerson, a .667 career hitter with the bases loaded. Wilkerson hit one foul over the right field fence before walking to pull the Gators within 14-11.

Casey Smith’s sacrifice to center field scored Ellis and Greg Catalanotte added a single past second base to bring in Siegel, making it a 14-13 game. But Nicholson grounded to Lee at first, who stepped on the bag to end it.

Wilkerson (10-5), who earlier Saturday was named player of the year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, started on the mound for Florida, going only 3 1-3 innings, giving up nine earned runs off six hits.

Meanwhile, Bulldogs starter Matt Ginter (6-4) kept a tight rein on Florida’s lineup, which includes seven players who hit at least 10 home runs this season. Johnson got his 10th save.

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