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Sunday March 26, 2006No. 7 South Carolina Overwhelms No. 9 Baseball

Columbia, SC

Seventh-ranked South Carolina (22-3/5-1 SEC) completed a weekend sweep of ninth-ranked Florida (17-11/2-4 SEC) with a dominating 21-4 victory at Sarge Frye Field on Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks tallied 10 runs in the second, seven in the third, three in the fifth and one more in the seventh en route to their first sweep of the Gators since 1995. USC has now taken seven of the eight series between the squads on its home turf. The Gamecocks pounded out 20 hits, with four homers, three doubles and a triple.  

 

The defeat was the third-worst in school history for Florida and the club’s second-worst conference loss behind a 20-2 setback to Pat McMahon’s Mississippi State team on May 5, 2000. Junior Robbie Grinestaff was 3-for-5 with five runs batted in, three runs, two solo homers and a double, junior Cheyne Hurst (3-for-5, five RBI, three runs) and senior Michael Campbell (4-for-6, four RBI, two runs) were among the hitting stars for the Gamecocks. Junior David Cash (Odessa, Fla.) was 2-for-4 with a season-high three RBI in his return to Columbia for the Gators.  

 

Making his first career SEC start and his first start since March 8, a 3-1 victory over UNC Greensboro, freshman J.K. LaCoste (Jacksonville, Fla.) pitched out of trouble in the first inning. The lefty issued back-to-back one-out walks to Campbell and senior Neil Giesler before retiring freshman Justin Smoak (pop-up) and junior Drew Martin (strikeout).

 

The Gamecocks sent 14 batters to the plate in the second inning and exploded for 10 runs on seven hits and an error. Grinestaff led off with a homer over the center-field wall, his seventh of the season and second of the weekend. LaCoste walked freshman Reese Havens, struck out senior Ian Paxton and then walked freshman James Darnell, prompting a pitching change. LaCoste (2-2) was charged with three runs on one hit and walked four batters over 1.1 innings.

 

Hurst advanced his teammates into scoring position against redshirt freshman Matt Hightower (Cartersville, Ga.) with a sacrifice bunt and Campbell punched a two-run single up the middle for a 3-0 advantage. Giesler followed with an infield hit to extend his hitting streak to 17 games and a walk to Smoak filled the sacks. A fielding error on freshman pinch hitter Jonathan Ratledge’s grounder brought across Campbell and Grinestaff cleared the bases with a three-run double down the right-field line to increase the margin to 7-0. Havens stroked an RBI single and Paxton jacked a two-run blast to left for a 10-run cushion. Freshman Chas Spottswood (Key West, Fla.) relieved Hightower (0.1 IP, 5H, 7R, 0ER) and yielded an infield hit to Darnell before having Hurst fly out to center.

 

USC batted around again in the third, highlighted by a grand slam from Hurst, to build a 17-0 lead. Campbell started things off with a single, Giesler doubled and Smoak was hit by a pitch to fill the sacks. Spottswood plunked Ratledge to plate a run but struck out Grinestaff for the initial out. The right-hander walked Havens to score Giesler and then allowed an RBI single to Paxton. After Darnell was caught looking on strikes, Hurst launched his second homer of the season and first career grand slam to put the Gamecocks ahead by 17.

 

Florida got on the board in the fourth on a two-run single to right field by Cash, who played at South Carolina in 2004. Juniors Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) and Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) had delivered consecutive one-out singles off junior Forrest Beverly before Cash raised his season RBI total to six.

 

Carolina banged out five more hits in the fifth off junior David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.) and totaled three runs for a 20-2 lead. Similar to the second, Grinestaff led off with a home run. Havens singled to left and Hurst bounced an RBI double into left field before taking third on a wild pitch. Campbell drove in his teammate with a base-hit and Giesler poked a single for his third hit of the afternoon.

 

Junior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) began the sixth with his third homer of the season, a shot to straightaway center. The slugger’s 43rd career round-tripper was his first since socking a grand slam against Florida A&M on Feb. 22. Junior Conor Lalor replaced Beverly with none out down in the inning and threw two scoreless innings. Beverly gave up five hits and three runs over five innings to improve to 5-1 on the season.

 

Hurst led off the home portion of the seventh with a single off sophomore Michael Branham (Tampa, Fla.) and Campbell lofted a triple off the center-field wall for a 21-3 lead. Cash led off the ninth with his first homer as a Gator to finalize the margin at 21-4. USC’s top three hitters in the lineup, Hurst, Campbell and Giesler, were a combined 10-for-16 with nine RBI and seven runs. Paxton finished 2-for-6 with three RBI and two runs, while Havens was 2-for-4 with four runs and a pair of RBI. Florida totaled seven hits from six different players. For the Gators, Branham gave up three hits and one run over two innings before junior Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) threw a scoreless ninth.

 

The Gators resume action on Wednesday night by hosting in-state rival South Florida (13-11/4-1 Big East entering Sunday) at 6:30 p.m. The Bulls took both ends of a home-and-home series last season, 8-7 in Gainesville and 11-5 in Tampa.

 

Game Notes

  • The Gators’ four-game slide is their longest since dropping four straight from May 1-8 last season (7-2 to Tennessee, 9-4 to Florida State, 4-1 and 3-2 (10) at Arkansas.
  • The last time Florida had been swept in a three-game series was by Ole Miss in Gainesville between May 14-16, 2004 (2-4, 1-3, 9-10 (10)).
  • The last time Florida had been swept on the road in SEC play was by Ole Miss in Oxford between May 9-11, 2003 (0-2, 3-8, 2-4).
  • The Gators are now 8-18 all-time in Columbia and have won just one of the eight series between the clubs at Sarge Frye Field.
  • Florida’s worst defeat in school history came at the hands of Clemson, 24-2, on March 19, 1974.
  • The 21 runs allowed were the most for UF since a 21-17 loss to Stetson on April 11, 2001.
  • The previous high for runs allowed this season by the Gators was 14 against Missouri, a 14-5 Tiger win on Feb. 24.

 

-UF-

 

 

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