SEC Baseball
during the Gators' game against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, April 15, 2023 at Florida Ballpark in Gainesville, FL / UAA Communications photo by Te'a Startz

Gators Baseball Drops Game One to S. Carolina

Relief pitching did not provide any relief for the Florida Gators baseball team on Thursday night in a 13-3 run-rule loss to number six South Carolina in Columbia.

After 5.2 innings of work from Brandon Sproat, who only allowed three runs while striking out eight batters, the Gators turned to the bullpen and struggled mightily. The Gamecocks plated five runs after Sproat left the mound behind five-straight walks and a two-run single to break a 3-3 tie in the sixth inning. They added five more in the seventh including a walk-off two-run double by Cole Messina.

Offensively, a three-hit, three-RBI night from Cole Petry and a three-double night from Michael Braswell surged the Gamecocks to the win.

Trading scores early

Despite the score, Thursday’s game looked to be a closely-fought battle early on.

The Gators loaded the bases with one out, and Luke Heyman hit a sacrifice fly to put the Gators up 1-0 in the first inning.

However, the nation’s team home run leader didn’t take long to answer. Petry hit his 19th home run of the season with two outs to tie the game 1-1.

The Gators retook the lead after a pair of errors by South Carolina’s Braylen Wimmer. Michael Robertson reached base after a fielding error and stole second base. In the next at-bat, a throwing error by Wimmer lead to a collision between Langford and first baseman Gavin Casas. Robertson scored off the error and put the Gators up 2-1.

Once again, the Gamecocks answered quickly. A walk and a double put two runners in scoring position, and Carson Hornung’s RBI groundout tied the game with no outs in the second inning.

South Carolina took their first lead of the night in the fourth inning. A single and two walks loaded the bases with one out. Evan Stone flew out to center field on the first pitch of the at-bat, which scored Cole Messina from third base and gave the Gamecocks a 3-2 lead.

Pitching dominates middle innings

Brandon Sproat pitched 5.2 innings, allowing four hits and four earned runs while striking out eight batters. Meanwhile, South Carolina pitcher Will Sanders dominated the Gators on the mound with 1o strikeouts and only three hits allowed in 6.0 innings pitched. Additionally, he picked up his fourth win of the season.

The two starters simply dominated despite early runs given up. Sanders struck out multiple batters in five of his six innings pitched. He also held the Gators without a hit from the first inning to the sixth.

On the other side, Sproat kept the Gamecocks at bay. After the Gamecocks’ took a 3-2 lead, Sproat came back for the fifth inning and struck out the side. The Gators were able to tie it up after a two-out triple from Colby Halter plated Cade Kurland.

Gators struggle in relief, Gamecocks take game one

The wheels fell off for the Gators in the sixth and seventh innings.

Sproat forced two quick outs in the sixth inning. However, a double by Braswell ended his night, and Philip Abner took the mound.

The Gator reliever struggled after a passed ball advanced Braswell and three-straight walks gave South Carolina the lead. Abner did not record a single out in his brief appearance.ย Nick Ficarrotta replaced Abner in the frame, but another bases-loaded walk and a two-run single from Petry extended the Gamecocks’ lead to five runs.

Tyler Nesbitt replaced Ficarrotta in the seventh inning, but the pitching change had little effect on the Gamecocks’ bats. Nesbitt walked Casas to start the inning, and another double by Braswell extended the lead to six runs.

Nesbitt hit a batter in the next at-bat before making a throwing error to first base, which allowed South Carolina to score two more. He recorded one more strike out, but that would prove to be the game’s final retired batter.

Nesbitt hit another batter before a single from Petry loaded the bases. Messina doubled in his next-at bat to seal the run-rule win for South Carolina.

Up next

The Gators and the Gamecocks meet for game two on Friday night at 7 p.m. with television coverage on SEC Network+. Radio coverage on WRUF begins at 6:55 p.m.

About Cam Parker

Cam is a fourth-year broadcast journalism sports and media major at the University of Florida. In addition to writing and recording radio trendings for WRUF, Cam covers North Florida HS football for The Prep Zone and Mainstreet Daily News and UF football and basketball for Inside the Gators.

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