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Saturday May 3, 2008No. 12 USC Rallies To Down No. 22 Baseball, 6-5

Columbia, SC

A bases-loaded, two-run single by South Carolina junior James Darnell (3-for-4, four RBI) in the seventh inning lifted the No. 12 Gamecocks (32-15/12-11 SEC) to a 6-5 victory over No. 22 Florida (28-17/13-10 SEC) on Saturday at Sarge Frye Field to even the teams’ weekend series.

 

Junior Will Atwood (5-2) hurled a complete game, allowing 11 hits and five runs, and retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced. The lefty matched his career high of seven strikeouts and was backed by a 13-hit outburst. Following five-straight games without a miscue, the Gators committed three errors and have now dropped five one-run games in conference play. UF will send junior right-hander Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) (8-0, 2.69) to the mound in tomorrow’s finale at 1:30 p.m., live on CSS, against USC righty Blake Cooper (5-4, 3.52).

 

Freshman Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.) provided the Gators with a 2-0 lead in the second with his first career SEC hit, a two-run homer to right center field. Senior Dustin Bamberg (Winter Haven, Fla.) had singled with two down off Atwood and Cooper bashed a 3-1 pitch out of the yard. After a walk to junior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.), junior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) (3-for-5) stung a ball down the right-field line. Foster attempted to score all the way from first but was cut down on a relay from senior right fielder Harley Lail to freshman second baseman Scott Wingo to senior catcher Phil Disher.

 

Darnell led off the bottom part of the stanza with his 14th round-tripper to left off junior Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) to cut the deficit in half. UF moved in front, 3-1, in the third on a two-out RBI single by sophomore Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.). Sophomore Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) poked a one-out hit, swiped second and had advanced to third on a fly-out by senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.).  

 

Aided by a critical two-out error, the Gamecocks evened the score in the home part of the third. Locke retired the first two batters before junior Reese Havens extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a single through the right side. Senior third baseman Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) muffed freshman Whit Merrifield’s grounder, giving USC two men aboard, and junior Justin Smoak had a run-scoring single into left field. Although Darnell doubled to left center to plate Merrifield with the tying run, Smoak was nailed at the dish on a relay from Barnes to Figueroa to Foster.

 

The Gators seized a 5-3 lead in the fourth with four-straight two-out singles. Foster kicked things off with an infield hit to short and Barnes pushed his teammate over with a knock up the middle. Adams roped an RBI single into left to put the visitors on top and Figueroa’s smash ricocheted off Atwood’s leg to score Barnes.

 

USC closed to within 5-4 in the fifth but had the tying run erased at home plate to end the frame. Merrifield bunted for a single with one down but Townsend threw the ball away, resulting in the runner taking second. Moments later, Smoak bashed an RBI double to left to end the afternoon for Locke. The lefty gave up eight hits and four runs (two earned) over 4.1 innings. Senior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) fanned Darnell and yielded a single into left by Disher. However, Barnes delivered a strike to Townsend, who was able to get the throw to Foster in time to tag out Smoak.  

 

The Gamecocks grabbed their first lead of the afternoon on Darnell’s bases-loaded single in the seventh that scored a pair. Edmondson issued a one-out walk to Havens before surrendering a double to Merrifield. With first base open, Smoak was walked intentionally and the move backfired when Darnell roped a two-run single into left field for a 6-5 USC lead. Edmondson prevented further trouble by striking out Disher and having Lail ground out.

 

Sophomore Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.) replaced Edmondson (3-3, 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R) prior to the eighth and struck out junior Andrew Crisp before permitting a single to sophomore Kyle Enders. Sophomore Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) was summoned from the bullpen and had Wingo ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

 

South Carolina held a 13-11 advantage in hits, led by three apiece from Merrifield and Darnell. Barnes and Figueroa (2-for-4) turned in multiple-hit outings for the Gators, who had eight of their nine starters record at least one hit. 

 

-UF-

 

 

 

 

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