For most of Thursday night’s Gator baseball game against South Carolina, these two teams looked as even as one would expect from the two finalists in the 2011 College World Series.
Once the 7th inning rolled around however, South Carolina proved again why they’re still the champions.
The Gamecocks (17-5) used a huge four run seventh inning to break a 2-2 tie, and tacked on three insurance runs in the eighth in beating the Gators (20-2) by a final score of 9-3. UF’s Steven Rodriguez, Austin Maddox, and Ryan Harris combined to allow 7 earned runs over 1 2/3 innings after starter Hudson Randall did his very best to keep South Carolina in check, striking out 11 over 5 2/3, while only allowing 2 earned runs.
This was the first matchup between these two teams since South Carolina beat the Gators in the College World Series Championship last season two games to none. The loss was just Florida’s second of the season, and their first setback since a February 19th 8-5 defeat to Cal State Fullerton. Since then, the Gators had won a school record 18 straight before hitting the skids on Thursday.
The offense could never get it going, with Gators star sluggers Preston Tucker and Mike Zunino combining to go 1 for 8, though Tucker’s two-out single in the third brought home the first run of the game for either team.
But the game was still tied at 2-2 until SC freshman Kyle Martin hit a bases loaded single to bring home two runs, sending the sold-out crowd of 8,242 at Carolina Stadium into a frenzy and giving the Gamecocks the lead for good.
The Gators will give it another go Friday night in the second game of the three-game series, hoping to win and force a decisive rubber match on Saturday. Friday night’s contest get’s started at 7pm with coverage on Country 103-7 The Gator.