Gamecocks Fall 9-8 To Gators
The rubber game is set for Sunday with first pitch at 1 pm and the game to be televised on ESPN with Mike Gleason and Kyle Peterson on the call. The game can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network with Mike Morgan and Tom Price handling the broadcast.
Carolina was in control of the game entering the bottom of the eighth inning with an 8-2 lead. The Gators stormed back in the bottom half of the inning though to score four runs to cut the deficit to two. Matt LaPorta led off with a single against Gamecock reliever Curtis Johnson that was followed up with a walk to Bryson Barber and a hit by pitch to Cody Neer. With the bases loaded, Brian Leclerc knocked a grand slam homer to left center as Florida got within two runs at 8-6. Carolina brought on reliever Wynn Pelzer to get the final two outs of the eighth inning.
The ninth inning saw Pelzer retire the first two batters before walking Matt LaPorta and hitting Bryson Barber on a 2-2 pitch to set the stage for Neer. On a 1-2 count, Neer launched the game-winning homer to left center that went in and out of the glove of center fielder Steven Reinhold and over the wall to win the game for the Gators.
Florida reliever David Hurst earned the win with one perfect inning of relief to improve to 2-0 on the year. Pelzer suffered the loss and is now 1-2 this season. He allowed just one hit, the home run, in 1.1 inning of work, while striking out three batters and walking just one. South Carolina broke out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the third inning on the back of a pair of two-run homers from Justin Smoak and Andrew Crisp.
With one out, James Darnell drew a walk. Smoak then delivered with two outs as he struck the first pitch from Davis with a homer over the left field wall. It extended his hitting streak to a career long 13 games and marked his 10th home run of the season. Phil Disher would then walk to set the stage for Crisp, who hit a home run to left field as well. It was Crisp's third of the year and second of the series vs. the Gators.
After Florida scored a run in the third inning, the Gamecocks used the home run for the third time of the game in the fourth inning with another two-run shot, this one courtesy of Reese Havens. The homer for Havens was his second of the season. The Gators and Gamecocks traded runs in the fifth and sixth innings. James Darnell knocked a two-out RBI single in the sixth to give USC a five-run edge. That lead increased to 8-2 in the top of the eighth inning when Travis Jones hit a solo home run, his sixth of the season and third of the series.
Carolina's four home runs in the game tied a season-high on the year dating back to the February 10 game vs. Western Kentucky when the Gamecocks tallied four in the game. Jones and Havens each had two hits to lead the Gamecocks at the plate. Cole Figueroa, Matt LaPorta and Cody Neer all had two hits for the Gators.
The loss spoiled a solid outing by Gamecock starter Will Atwood. Atwood went a career-high seven innings in his first start of the year and limited Florida to two runs on six hits while walking just two and striking out five batters. The Gamecocks have lost six of seven games by one run this season.
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