Over before it started

Top-ranked Florida jumped all over South Carolina starter Forrest Koumas for five first-inning runs and never looked back as they evened the best-of-three SEC series with an 8-2 victory at Carolina Stadium Friday night.

Florida wasted little time in responding to Thursday night's 9-3 South Carolina victory.

The top-ranked Gators jumped all over South Carolina starter Forrest Koumas for five first-inning runs and never looked back as they evened the best-of-three SEC series with an 8-2 victory at Carolina Stadium Friday night.

"It's what we expected," first baseman Christian Walker said. "They are a good team. They aren't going let us push them around."

The Gators (21-2, 1-4) certainly didn't.

Koumas, acting as the Gamecocks (17-6, 1-4) game-two starter for the first time this season, surrendered a three-run home run to Mike Zunino with one out in the first. On the very next pitch, Florida starting pitcher and designated hitter Brian Johnson skied a Koumas pitch to left and it carried just over the wall to give the Gators a 4-0 lead.

"I felt pretty good coming out, but they are a great hitting team and when I threw it in there they hit it," Koumas said.

After issuing two walks and allowing a single, Koumas then balked home a fifth run.

It was more of the same in the second inning as the sophomore walked the first batter of the inning then threw two straight balls to the next batter before pitching coach Jerry Meyers sprinted out of the dugout to pull his pitcher.

Left-hander Nolan Belcher gave the Gamecocks a chance to hang in the game and avoid depleting the bullpen by giving up just an earned run on four hits in 4.2 innings of work. But the Gators tacked an extra run on Koumas' final line on a Johnson single to right off of Belcher with two outs and two strikes in the second.

Koumas started big games for Carolina last season, but was making his first start of the season after Matt Price, last year's closer, was moved back to the bullpen in Thursday's game.

"You play a good team and leave a couple balls up and that's what will happen," head coach Ray Tanner said. "Did Koumas have enough notice to play tonight? I think he was prepared. It was one of the situations he knew what was going to unfold and I thought he was pretty excited about it.

"Like I said, I thought he had good stuff tonight. I was encouraged by the way he went out there he just didn't show up well tonight in the box score."

Koumas had given up just three earned runs on the season, but surrendered six earned runs, four hits and five walks in the loss (1-2).

South Carolina tried to chip away at the Gators commanding lead, but Florida always seemed to have an answer.

Walker led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run to left to put Carolina on the board.

But Florida answered with Vickash Ramjit's solo home run in the sixth.

South Carolina cut the lead to 7-2 Florida when designated hitter Brison Celek doubled to left center to score Walker from first.

But Ramjit countered with his second homer of the game in the ninth inning to make it 8-2 Florida.

Florida got a quality start from Johnson (W, 4-0) who allowed just two earned runs on five hits and two walks in six innings of work. Left-hander Daniel Gibson allowed just a hit in 2.2 scoreless innings to finish the game.

The Gamecocks and Gators square off for the decisive game-three Saturday afternoon at Carolina Stadium with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.

Junior right-hander Colby Holmes (3-0, 1.88) will take the mound for Carolina while sophomore right-hander Jonathon Crawford (2-1, 4.43 ERA) will start for Florida.


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