Game 1: All Gators 9-3

It was just not a good day for Mike Cisco (LP, 5-3) and the South Carolina Gamecocks (31-15) as nothing seemed to go their way. Cisco lasted just three innings giving up eight hits and four runs (one earned) as the Florida Gators (28-16, 13-9 SEC) dealt the Gamecocks their fourth loss in a row by a score of 9-3. The Gamecocks are now just 11-11 in the SEC.

The Gators struck first scoring a run in the first and never looked back scattering nine runs and twelve hits, all singles. Florida starting pitcher Tommy Toledo and reliever Billy Bullock (WP, 4-3) combined to give up just three runs and seven hits to the struggling Gamecocks.

Bullock did the majority of the heavy lifting going 5.1 innings giving up four hits and two earned runs.

South Carolina started out solid at the plate getting three hits and a run in the first two innings, but the Gamecocks did not get another hit until the seventh inning. Positives were hard to come by as Crisp and Smoak were the only USC hitters with multiple hits. Crisp went two-for-three, while Smoak went two-for-five. Scott Wingo also had a solid day at the plate reaching base three times on the home run, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch. Wingo's solo shot came in the seventh.

His homer as well as Reese Havens' ninth inning blast were too little, too late. Nothing seemed to work as the balls South Carolina did hit hard were right at Gator defenders and miscues in the field mounted up and ultimately cost the Gamecocks the game.

None of those miscues were bigger than a Justin Smoak error on a foul ball in the third inning. With the game tied 1-1 Cisco was in a groove and after shutting down four hitters in a row gave up what seemed to be a harmless single to Buddy Munroe. Junior Avery Barnes then popped up to the first base side in foul territory, but Smoak could not make the play as the ball bounced out of his glove. Barnes then singled and four hits later the Gamecocks were down 4-1 and Cisco had faced five more batters than he should have.

USC head coach Ray Tanner was very matter-of-fact following the loss. "We played a very good Florida team tonight; I thought they pitched extremely well. Toledo, he gave them a great start and then Bullock came in and pitched very, very well. We never bunched anything. We let the leadoff guy on base six times and it came back to haunt us."

Facing five USC pitchers, the middle of the Gator order had an incredible day combining to go 6-for-13 with six of the Gators' nine RBI. Shortstop Cole Figueroa went two-for-three with three RBI. Senior Brandon McArthur led the Gators with a three-hit, two-RBI day. The Gators were relentless on the base paths stealing bases and using the hit-and-run to perfection. Florida rarely stranded runners and scored in six of the nine innings. The Gators did not have a single extra-base hit, but did steal six bases and were not caught stealing once.

Though many ultimately went home unhappy, the 4,861 fans in attendance at Sarge Frye Field witnessed one of the wildest half-innings they will ever see in the top of the fifth. The inning started out as any other, as Figueroa was hit by pitch and McArthur singled to give the Gators runners at first and second. Matt den Dekker then placed a bunt down the third base line that was thrown to first where the umpire called den Dekker safe. An infuriated Tanner ran out to dispute the call and after a long debate the call was ultimately changed and den Dekker ruled out.

That was not the end of the fifth-inning fireworks as a few batters later Wingo dropped a liner, but thought quickly and threw to second and onto first for what at the time looked like a double play. The umpire, however, ruled Wingo intentionally dropped the ball, and by-rule called the play dead and the batter out but sent the runner back to first base.

After the game Wingo said he did not drop the ball on purpose, but Tanner credited the umpires with doing their best to get the calls right. "Actually the umpire had a collision with Wingo. He didn't see the play," Tanner said. "The other one he thought Wingo dropped the ball on purpose, so that was his call. I didn't think he dropped it on purpose, the guy was running, it was a full count. But in his estimation, he dropped it on purpose so I can accept that."

After a second straight less-than-stellar outing by Cisco, the speculation began that the junior ace may be sore or tiring.

"I'm feeling fine. It didn't go the way I wanted it to, but that doesn't always mean my arm is hurt or I'm not feeling good," Cisco said. "They had some hits in there, and scattered a couple of in-field hits. And just pieced it together and it just wasn't going right."

With Cisco and the entire team struggling down the stretch, the question becomes what can Tanner do to get the team back on track? "You've got to bounce back. Give Florida credit, they're a good team. But we did some things that doesn't put us in position to win," Tanner said. "We didn't make a couple of plays when we needed to; we didn't come up with a couple of big hits. And you've got to do that if you're going to beat good people. We've got to bounce back."

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