Saturday May 22, 2010No. 6 South Carolina Salvages Finale Against No. 4 Baseball, 11-6
Senior righty Jay Brown and No. 6 South Carolina (43-13/21-9 SEC) used a six-run sixth inning to avoid being swept by No. 4 Florida (40-13/22-8 SEC) by notching a 11-6 victory in front of 7,523 fans at Carolina Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Brown (3-0) held the Gators scoreless into the seventh before the visitors rallied for six runs and was supported by a grand slam from sophomore Jackie Bradley, Jr. (2-for-4, four RBI) and a 4-for-5, three-run outing by senior Bobby Haney.
The defeat ended UF’s seven-game winning streak and the Gamecocks snapped a five-game slide in the series. Junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) continued to swing a hot stick by going 3-for-5 and freshman Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) was 2-for-4 in his first start at shortstop. Florida returns to action on Wednesday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. on the first day of the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., against defending national champion LSU (36-20/14-16 SEC).
Sophomore Adam Matthews (3-for-5, two RBI) opened the scoring for the Gamecocks with a two-out solo homer in the first inning off freshman Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (5-3). Matthews’ seventh big fly of the season and second of the series hit the batter’s eye in straightaway center field. Johnson allowed two hits and a run in his lone inning of work.
Sophomore Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) (2-for-5, two RBI) opened the second with a single into right center before junior right fielder Whit Merrifield robbed Adams of a potential homer with a leaping grab at the fence.
Merrifield (2-for-5, two RBI) put South Carolina ahead by a 2-0 count in the bottom of the inning with a two-out single up the middle that brought home Haney. After sophomore Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) had the first two batters ground out, Haney ripped a base-hit up the middle and moved to second on a passed ball by senior catcher Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.). Junior Scott Wingo earned a free pass for two runners aboard and Merrifield sliced an RBI single into center field.
Florida’s bid to get on the board in the third against Brown fell by the wayside when junior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) was called out at home plate. Making his first career start at shortstop, Dent poked a one-out single into left field but was erased on a fielder’s choice by Smith. A two-out grounder by sophomore Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) was thrown away by junior third baseman Adrian Morales, with Smith attempting to score on the play. Freshman first baseman Christian Walker fired a relay to senior catcher Kyle Enders as Smith slid into home and was called out.
The Gamecocks had a pair of runners in scoring position in the fourth, as Morales was hit by a pitch to start the frame and Wingo doubled to left field. However, DeSclafani had Merrifield fly out to sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) to keep the Gators’ deficit at 2-0.
DeSclafani matched his season high of three innings out of the bullpen, allowing three hits and a run, before sophomore Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) took over prior to the home part of the fifth. In his SEC debut this year, Toledo worked 1.1 innings and was replaced by sophomore Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) after yielding a leadoff single to Morales and a sacrifice bunt to Enders in the sixth. Haney greeted Maronde (1 H, 2 R) with a base-hit for runners on the corners and the southpaw plunked Wingo on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases with one down. Junior Matt Campbell (Tampa, Fla.) surrendered an RBI single to Merrifield that scored Morales and then Bradley, Jr., cleared the bases with his ninth homer, a grand slam that expanded the margin to 7-0. Matthews singled and Walker doubled off the right-field wall before a grounder by senior Nick Ebert (1-for-3, two RBI) plated Matthews with the eighth run.
Adams and senior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) delivered singles in the seventh to end the afternoon for Brown (6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 4 K). Tignor roped a two-run double into left center off junior John Taylor to narrow the gap to 8-2 and Dent had an RBI single into left field to reduce the Gators’ deficit to five runs. Daniel Pigott drew a walk for two runners on base, forcing another call to the bullpen. Freshman Matt Price took over for Taylor (2 H, 3 R) and issued a free pass to Weitzel that loaded the bases. The righty caught sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) looking on strikes but McMahan followed with a two-run single into left field to score Dent and Pigott and close the gap to 8-5. Although Adams roped a base-knock up the middle to score Weitzel with the sixth run, Price worked out of further trouble by striking out sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.).
Haney led off the bottom of the stanza with a single through the left side and was sacrificed to second by Wingo. Merrifield moved his teammate over with a grounder and Haney scored on a wild pitch by Campbell to give USC a 9-6 edge. Bradley Jr. bashed a two-out double to prompt another pitching change, as sophomore Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) came in for Campbell (1.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R) and gave up an RBI single to Matthews for a 10-6 score. Ebert cranked his seventh homer into the left-field bleachers to begin the bottom of the eighth to complete the 11-6 margin.
· South Carolina ended a five-game losing streak to Florida dating back to an 11-3 win at the 2008 SEC Tournament.
· The six-run seventh inning marked the 14th time this year that the Gators scored five or more runs in an inning.
· Cody Dent made his collegiate starting debut at shortstop, as Nolan Fontana had started the Gators’ first 52 games of the season.
· Bryson Smith made his first start in right field, while Hampton Tignor drew his second start of the year behind the plate.