Tommy Mace during the Gators' game against the Florida State Seminoles on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. / UAA Communications photo by Adler Garfield

Gator Baseball Drops Extra Inning Game To South Carolina In Series Opener

The number five Gator baseball team took the road for their first away from home weekend series in SEC play on Friday night against the 25th ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. In a 14 inning showdown the Gators took the loss 9-8.

Gators on the Mound

Tommy Mace got the start on the mound for the Gators. After a four-inning night the right-hander finished the day allowing four runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts.  Trey Van Der Weide took over for Mace. The relief pitcher had a solid night, allowing two hits and one run while striking out one batter.  Franco Aleman took the mound midway through the seventh and allowed a run and  Christian Scott was brought in and pitched tremendously, allowing no runs in four innings of work to keep the Gators in the game.  The loss went to Ben Specht, the last of five pitchers used by the Gators in the game.

South Carolina Takes Early Lead

The Gators jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. After three straight walks from South Carolina pitcher Thomas Farr, Jacob Young, Jud Fabian and Nathan Hickey had the bases loaded. Kirby McMullen stepped up to the plate and singled to right field to drive in two runs.

South Carolina made some noise in the second inning, scoring four runs. Jeff Heinrich singled to the right-side advancing David Mendham home for the Gamecocks’ first run of the night. Braylen Wimmer tacked on a two-run RBI single to right field giving South Carolina a 3-2 lead. The Gamecocks added one more run with a Josiah Sightler RBI single to make the score 4-2.

The Gators managed to cut the South Carolina lead to 4-3 in the third inning on a Jordan Butler sacrifice fly.

Florida Battles Back

With the bases loaded in the top of the fifth, freshman Sterlin Thompson stepped up to the plate and scorched a single to right field that scored Butler and Kirby McMullen as the Gators took the lead at 5-4.

Florida carried the momentum into the sixth inning. Nathan Hickey hit a sacrifice fly to give Florida a 6-4 lead and Jacob Young kept things rolling for the Florida offense in the top of the seventh. with an RBI single that scored Mac Guscette to put the Gators up 7-4.

Gamecocks Back on the Board

The Gamecocks offense was silenced until the bottom of the seventh. Back-to-back doubles plated a run to cut the Gator lead to 7-5 and Andrew Eyster singled to drive home another Gamecock run to make it 7-6.  The Gamecocks would tie the game in the eighth inning with an RBI double and the game would go into extra innings.

14 Inning Thriller

Both bullpens did an excellent job, keeping the game tied until the 14th inning.  Florida went ahead 8-7 thanks to Nathan Hickey but the Gamecocks hit a two out home run to tie the game and then won the game on a double from Colin Burgess.  The game lasted five hours and 31 minutes to become the longest game played in Florida history, surpassing a five hour 12 minute contest against LSU in 1996.

A Look at Game Two

Florida will put Jack Leftwich (4-0) on the mound against South Carolina’s Brannon Jordan (1-2). The first pitch is set for 4 p.m. on SECNetwork+.  Florida is now 3-1 in SEC play while the Gamecocks are 2-2.

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