The Florida Gator baseball team clinched its second SEC series with a 4-3 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks on Friday night. Florida improved its record to an even .500 at 18-18 overall and in the SEC as well with a 7-7 record.
Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan was very pleased with the win.
The Gamecocks started off the first inning with a leadoff single from Graham Saiko, but the Gators turned it around for a 4-6-3 double play. South Carolina then put runners on second and third with a single from L.B. Dantzler and a double from Brison Celek. Freshman left-hander Danny Young safely retired Max Schrock with a flyout to right field, stranding two runners and keeping the Gamecocks scoreless in the first despite getting three hits.
Florida’s leadoff batter Richie Martin started the Gators off walking for first base, followed by a single from Casey Turgeon that moved Martin around to third. After battling through 11 pitches, Gator catcher Taylor Gushue struck out swinging for the first out. Gamecock lefty pitcher then made a throwing error to first in a pickoff attempt, and Martin scored to give Florida a 1-0 lead.
South Carolina scored one run in the third inning when second baseman Max Schrock drove in the tying run by grounding out to first with bases loaded. The Gators went on to end the inning with only one run scored.
With the ball game still tied at one run in the fourth inning, Gamecock right-fielder Connor Bright sent his third homer of the season into left field. Florida’s Harrison Bader was inches away from robbing Bright of the home run.; he had made a leaping catch that robbed a home run in Florida’s victory over Florida State on Tuesday night.
After three innings, three hits, and one unearned run, Montgomery was relieved by lefty Adam Westmoreland who mowed down the Gators until the eighth inning.
Freshman right-hander Mike Vinson came to the bump to relieve Young with one out in the fifth inning. After 1.2 scoreless innings, Vinson was pulled in the seventh after committing a throwing error to first base. The error was the first committed by Florida since last Friday’s series opener with Mississippi State. Sophomore lefty Bobby Poyner relieved Vinson and retired two batters in a row with a ground out and a fly out. Florida turned to the bullpen for a third time in the seventh inning, bringing in freshman right-hander Aaron Rhodes. With two outs, Rhodes delivered just one pitch that retired designated hitter Brison Celek in a fly out to right field.
The Gamecocks scored a run in the eighth to up 3-1. Rhodes walked second baseman Max Shrouk, who then stole second base. Joey Pankake grounded out to shortstop but moved Shrouk to third. With Florida’s infield playing in Gamecock catcher Grayson Greiner hit a hard grounder to shortstop Cody Dent, who didn’t have time to field the ball and the run scored
The Gators won the game in the eighth. Casey Turgeon reached on an error and one out later Justin Shafer singled and Vickash Ramjit walked to load the bases. Josh Tobias grounded to pitcher Westmoreland for the out but drove in a run. Stepping up big for the Gators was freshman Harrison Bader, who’s two out base hit sent in Shafer and Ramjit with the tying and go ahead runs.
Florida turned to closer Johnny Magliozzi in the top of the ninth and he promptly walked the leadoff hitter Tanner English who moved to second on an infield ground out by Saiko. After a fly out, Magliozzi then walked his second batter of the inning, but ended the game with an emotional strikeout.
O’Sullivan says Florida is turning its season around.
Florida has not yet released its starting pitcher for Saturday while the Gamecocks plan to start senior right-hander Cody Holmes.
A victory over South Carolina today will give the Gators their first winning record this season since way back in February. The game can be heard live on Country 103-7 The Gator beginning at 2:55 P.M. and first pitch set for 3 P.M.