COURTESY OF UAA COMMUNICATIONS
South Carolina (24-14, 9-8 SEC) held a 4-1 lead late in the game and held on over the final two innings despite Florida (26-13, 9-8 SEC) threatening in both the eighth and ninth.
The Gamecocks jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. TJ Hopkins, the first batter of the game, was hit by a pitch and Carlos Cortes followed with a home run to right field.
It was the first home run allowed by Florida starter Brady Singer in his UF career, a span of 108.1 innings.
The Gators got a run back in the second inning. JJ Schwarz and Christian Hicks had back-to-back singles to set UF up with runners on the corners.
Freshman Keenan Bell laced a one-out single into left field to score Schwarz to make it 2-1.
After the second inning, Singer retired 11 of the next 12 batters before he ran into trouble in the sixth. Chris Cullen led off with a single into left field and scored on Jacob Olson’s RBI double to make it 3-1 Gamecocks.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan went to the bullpen, first bringing in lefty Nick Horvath to face the left-handed hitting Matt Williams.
Horvath got a weak grounder for the second out, then right-hander Frank Rubio entered and got Hunter Taylor to groundout to end the threat.
South Carolina added another run in the seventh. Cullen’s RBI groundout made it 4-1 as LT Tolbert scored from third.
Florida put together a rally in the eighth off South Carolina reliever Tyler Johnson but could not capitalize. Bell singled and Hicks doubled to set the Gators up in scoring position then Deacon Liput walked to load the bases with no outs.
Johnson got Dalton Guthrie to pop up on the infield for the first out and struck out Austin Langworthy on a 98 mph fastball.
With two outs, Gators’ cleanup hitter Ryan Larson sent a ball to the warning track in left field but the wind knocked it down and TJ Hopkins hauled it in for the third out.
After Tyler Dyson retired the side in order in the top of the ninth, Florida threatened again in its final at bat.
Nelson Maldonado led off with a walk and Schwarz singled to put runners on the corners. With Hicks at the plate, the umpire called a balk that allowed Maldonado to score from third.
Johnson retired Hicks on a pop up then retired the next two batters to close out the game.
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan Quotes:
“Brady battled. He worked behind in the count more than he usually does tonight. He battled and he gave us a chance to win. I thought the two youngsters at the end, Kirby did a nice job and kept the score right there and Tyler did a nice job. I thought Frank came in out of the pen and did a nice job, but then the following inning gave up a run. They had first and third with Cullen at the plate and we were trying to get a double play and then we run it to a full count. Obviously they’ll be running with a full count so we can’t get the double play on a ground ball to short. That was a bit frustrating.
“We had our chances late against Johnson. Had the bases loaded with nobody out in the eighth and the swings got a little big again. It was one of those nights where the ball wasn’t carrying, probably needed to just shorten our swings a little bit and try to hit line drives instead of trying to hit it over the outfielder’s heads because it just wasn’t going out. Ryan’s ball that he hit in left center, on most nights, it’s a home run. But it’s just one of those nights when the wind was not blowing out. We’ve got to do a better job in those situations and not try to do too much. Guys are just swinging too hard. A couple hits here or there, even a couple fly balls, we cut the score down to 4-3 and next thing you know the balk ends up tying the ball game. Even a double play is a run. Then the balk makes it 4-3 and who knows what happens. We’ve just got to do a better job, it’s just that simple.”