Gators stay alive with win over Gamecocks

This matchup wasn't supposed to come in the losers' bracket. Florida and South Carolina both lost their first game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Wednesday, setting up the two conference powers in an elimination game. The Gators combined to score five runs in the third and fourth innings, running away with a 7-2 win over South Carolina.

It was Florida's ninth win over the Gamecocks in the last 11 meetings between the teams.

"It was a well played game by both sides," Kevin O'Sullivan said. "A clean game on both sides. We were just fortunate to score some two-out runs after putting some good at-bats together. We've won that way all year, getting contributions all the way up and down our lineup."

The offense broke out in the third and fourth innings. With two outs in the third inning, Casey Turgeon reached on an infield single and Richie Martin followed by reaching on a fielding error by starting pitcher Jack Wynkoop while trying to field a bunt. Harrison Bader was hit with a pitch to load the bases.

In a 2-0 count, Taylor Gushue grounded a single up the middle to score two runs. With Bader on third, Braden Mattson reached on a two-out bunt single to push the score Florida lead to 3-2 after three innings.

But the Gators weren't done.

With Florida runners on first and second with no outs in the fourth inning, South Carolina went to its bullpen to get closer Joel Seddon. He recorded the first out at third base on a bunt attempt by Josh Tobias, but Turgeon followed with an RBI single to push the lead to 4-2. Martin singled on the next pitch, giving Florida a 5-2 lead after four innings.

Josh Tobias homered to lead off the sixth inning, his second home run in the last three games, and Turgeon had another RBI single in the eighth inning to make Florida's lead 7-2.

"We didn't play the game we wanted to (against Kentucky on Wednesday)," Gushue said. "We knew coming into today that we wanted to play our game of baseball, and I think we did a really good job today."

Florida started freshman A.J. Puk on the mound. He went four innings, giving up three hits, two walks and two runs while striking out five hitters. O'Sullivan pulled him after 75 pitches and gave the ball to junior Bobby Poyner.

The left-hander finished the game, tossing five scoreless innings and allowing just three base runners.

"I was just commanding the ball, got early contact," Poyner said. "We played pretty good defense, so I was just throwing the ball down in the zone for the most part."

The Gators advance to play on Friday night against the loser of Thursday's Kentucky-Mississippi State game. The game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. ET but could be pushed back depending on the length of the game before it.

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