Third-seeded South Carolina (41-16) outlasted sixth-seeded Florida (28-29), 4-3, in 12 innings on Wednesday
afternoon in opening-round action of the 2007 SEC Tournament at Regions Park. The Gators will next take on seventh-seeded
(31-25) at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the first elimination contest. Junior right-hander Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian,
Fla.) (7-5, 5.24) will
draw the starting assignment against Tide junior lefty Will Stroup (3-0, 4.61).
With the victory, the seventh-ranked Gamecocks next face second-seeded Arkansas (39-18), the
Western Division champion, at 6 p.m. tomorrow night.
In the 12th, Carolina
sophomore Justin Smoak reached on a fielding error by
freshman shortstop Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee,
Fla.) and moved to second on a balk by
senior David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.).
After an intentional walk to junior Phil Disher,
junior Trent Kline dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into
scoring position. An intentional walk to freshman pinch hitter Kyle Enders
loaded the bases for junior Harley Lail, who punched
a single past the drawn in Gator infield to score Smoak
with the decisive run. All four of USC’s runs on the
afternoon were unearned. Senior Jeff Jeffords (6-1) pitched one scoreless inning
to earn the decision, while Hurst
(2-2) suffered the loss despite matching a career-high with 5.1 innings. The
southpaw permitted five hits with two strikeouts and a pair of walks.
The Gators took advantage of three walks from
junior Harris Honeycutt and used a bases-loaded sacrifice fly from sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.)
to open the scoring in the second stanza. Senior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.)
drew a leadoff walk on four pitches and moved over on a wild pitch. Senior Austin Pride (Longwood,
Fla.) and Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.)
earned back-to-back free passes to fill the sacks and Neer
lofted his third sac fly into right field to bring across Leclerc.
Honeycutt had freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
pop up to short to end the frame.
two runs on four hits in the third to take a 3-0 lead. Figueroa started things
off with his 12th double and Barnes followed with seventh two-bagger to switch
places with his teammate. A grounder by Leclerc
advanced Barnes to third and Townsend walked for runners on the corners and two
down. Pride poked an RBI single up the middle and Petrie legged out an infield
hit to load the bases. Honeycutt induced a ground ball by Neer
that forced Petrie at second to hold the Gamecocks’ deficit at three runs.
Fla.) issued a walk to Kline to begin the
bottom of the fourth but then had sophomore Andrew Crisp ground into a 5-4-3
double play, the second Florida
had turned in the ballgame. Lail punched a single
into center field and senior Cheyne Hurst walked for
two USC runners aboard. Sophomore second baseman Avery Barnes (High Springs,
Fla.) snagged a line drive by
sophomore Reese Havens to halt the threat.
Carolina narrowed the gap to 3-2 in the
sixth courtesy of two unearned runs. Disher reached
on a throwing error by Figueroa and Kline walked before a wild pitch by Mullaney put both players in scoring position. Senior
Robbie Grinestaff delivered a pinch-hit RBI single
into shallow center to put the Gamecocks on the board and Hurst’s sac fly to center scored Kline. Mullaney jammed Haven on an infield fly to preserve UF’s lead.
den Dekker opened the
seventh with a base-hit up the middle and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by
Figueroa. After walking Barnes, Honeycutt (6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 5 BB, 5 K) was replaced
by junior Curtis Johnson. Although a free pass to senior Matt LaPorta (Port
Charlotte, Fla.) loaded the
bases, the right-hander had Leclerc fly out and
caught junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.)
looking on strikes.
In the bottom of the frame, the Gamecocks evened
the score on a sac fly by Disher. Junior Travis Jones
reached on a fielding error by Townsend and a single through the right side by
sophomore James Darnell left runners on first and third and prompted a pitching
then came out of the bullpen for Mullaney, who
scattered five hits and allowed zero earned runs over six innings. Hurst retired second-team
All-SEC recipient Smoak on a fly ball to right before
Disher tied the game with the sacrifice to center.
the game to extra innings by working out of trouble in the bottom of the ninth.
Havens and Jones delivered consecutive one-out singles and a fielder’s choice
by Darnell left runners on the corners. Hurst
had Smoak pop up to Townsend in foul territory to
give the fans free baseball.
mounted a rally in the 10th, as Leclerc walked and
Townsend reached on a fielder’s choice to put two men aboard. However, Johnson
had Pride ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. The Gamecocks’ Havens
and Jones had back-to-back singles with two down in the 11th and Hurst had Darnell fly out
Jeffords replaced Johnson (4.2 IP, 0 H, 5 K) to
begin the 12th and gave up a single to short by Figueroa. Barnes advanced his
teammate with a sac bunt and LaPorta was walked intentionally
for the 29th time this season. A flyout to center by Leclerc nudged Figueroa to third and Jeffords responded
with a strikeout of Townsend.
Carolina held a 10-6 advantage in hits,
led by two apiece from Darnell, Havens, Jones, Lail. Figueroa went 2-for-5 in his postseason debut
Each squad left 11 runners on base.