Randall, Gators Even Series with Gamecocks

Hudson Randall knew the type of outing No. 1 Florida needed. He watched from the dugout the frustration of his team on Friday, and the sophomore right-hander delivered the performance necessary to forget about game one.

Randall didn't allow an earned run in a complete game, and Kamm Washington blasted a late home run to help the Gators (21-3/4-1 SEC) even the series with No. 4 South Carolina on a 2-1 victory Saturday.

"This was a big game for us," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We didn't play good last night. They beat us in all phases of the game last night, and they beat us pretty good. To come back and get a win was huge for our team."

"That was a special start (from Randall). The fans who were here and saw that tonight, that's about as good of a start as you'll ever see at this level."

In the first complete game of his career, Randall (4-0) allowed five hits and one unearned run while recording four strikeouts. The right-hander lowered his ERA from 0.85 to 0.66. He also retired the final 19 hitters he faced. Randall didn't walk a batter and has only walked one hitter in 40.2 innings this season. He has a 25-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the year.

With his pitch count at 89 through eight innings, the Florida coaching staff had a decision to make. With Randall on a hot streak and a reasonable pitch count, they decided to let him go back into the game and finish it.

"We had a tough decision to make," O'Sullivan said. "Do you let Huddy finish it or do you go to your bullpen that's been outstanding all year? It was a really tough decision, but (catcher Mike) Zunino came up to me and said Huddy wanted to finish this thing."

He finished the game with 95 pitches and threw 73 of them for strikes.

Randall gave up all five of the hits he allowed during the first three innings. The Gamecocks (17-5/3-2) had two base runners in each of the second and third innings before he locked in.

For a pitcher who uses his off-speed stuff to get ground balls, Randall usually gets better as the game goes on. When he breaks a sweat and gets into the flow of it, his location gets sharper. With fatigue comes extra movement on his off-speed pitches to make them better.

That's exactly what helped him set down the last 19 hitters he faced, including the 3-5 spots in the South Carolina order during the 9th inning.

"When my arm is fresh at the beginning of the game, sometimes I pull off it a little," Randall said. "Once I get loose and my arm gets more into the game, they break a little better."

Randall also used some South Carolina tendencies against them. He watched on Friday night as they swung early in the count against Brian Johnson and hit him hard. Randall wasn't going to let his performance fall to the same fate.

"They're an aggressive team like the teams we've been playing, so I've been used to it," Randall said. "I was trying to pitch them a little bit off the plate and get them to chase a little bit."

With the game tied at one in the seventh inning, South Carolina manager Ray Tanner went to his bullpen. He pulled freshman starter Forrest Koumas for his All-American closer, Matt Price. The Gamecocks were willing to let him go three innings while hoping they could score a run. Instead, it only took one pitch for Price to be on the hook for the loss.

He threw a fastball on the outside part of the plate to Kamm Washington, and the Florida center fielder was expecting it. He belted it into the left field bleachers to give the Gators a 2-1 lead they wouldn't relinquish. It was the sophomore's second career home run.

"Sully and the coaches told us he was a big fastball pitcher," Washington said. "I was just looking for my zone up and away, and I got one there. I knew I hit it good, but I wasn't going to trot."

Koumas kept Florida hitters off-balance all night. He went six innings and allowed only two hits while walking two and hitting three batters. He recorded five strikeouts and only had 76 pitches when he was pulled.

He threw his fastball past all hitters and used his slider against right-handers most of the time.

"He has a firm fastball and was very competitive," O'Sullivan said. "He's going to be tough in this league."

The first five hitters in the Florida lineup combined to go 0-for-14. The Gators had only three hits on the night, matching their lowest total of the season.

Florida and South Carolina will play the rubber match of the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Gators will throw freshman right-hander Karsten Whitson (3-0, 2.52). The Gamecocks haven't decided on a starting pitcher, but it is expected to be sophomore right-hander Colby Holmes (2-0, 4.80) or junior left-hander Bryan Harper (0-0, 3.52).

Harper is the older brother of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, Bryce Harper.

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