Friday March 25, 2011No. 4 South Carolina Downs No. 1 Florida In Opener, 9-2
Junior left-hander Michael Roth took a shutout into the ninth and No. 4 South Carolina (17-4/3-1 SEC) used a pair of four-run innings on its way to a 9-2 victory over No. 1 Florida (20-3/3-1 SEC) on Friday night in front of 5,586 fans at McKethan Stadium. Roth (5-1) yielded 10 hits, registered six strikeouts and gave up two runs in his longest stint of the season. The Gamecocks plated four runs in both the third and sixth frames to increase their winning streak to five games and snap the Gators’ skein at 10 games.
“We gave up four runs there in the third and they got their bats rolling a little bit,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We had an opportunity in the bottom half of the third to cut the lead down a little bit. We had bases loaded and one out and struck out looking and it’s tough to do but I thought that if we could maybe answer with one or two there it might have been a different ballgame.”
“They just out-played us in every phase. They out-pitched us, out-hit us and played really good defense. Their third baseman made a couple of nice plays in two different innings. We can’t let this one leak into tomorrow and it is what it is, we just got out-played tonight. We couldn’t quite bunch our hits together and we really couldn’t mount any true threats.”
The Gamecocks threatened in the second with two runners aboard and one down against sophomore Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (4-1) but did not score. Senior Brady Thomas (1-for-4, two RBI) was plunked by a pitch, Johnson’s first time hitting a batter all season, and moved over on a single into left field by junior Jake Williams (3-for-5). A fly ball into center field by senior Robert Beary pushed Thomas to third before senior Scott Wingo hit a grounder that ricocheted off sophomore first baseman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) to senior second baseman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.), who fired over to Johnson covering first base to end the frame.
South Carolina exploded for four runs on five hits in the third inning to take a 4-0 lead. Junior Adam Matthews (1-for-5, two runs) opened with a triple into the gap in right center and scored on an RBI single up the middle by junior Peter Mooney (3-for-5, three runs, two RBI). Junior Jackie Bradley, Jr., connected on a single into right field for a pair of runners on base and a throwing error by freshman third baseman Tyler Palmer (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) on a grounder by sophomore Christian Walker loaded the bases with none out. Senior Adrian Morales drove in Mooney with a grounder to first and Thomas roped a two-run single into left center for a four-run margin.
In the bottom of the inning, the Gators had the bases loaded with one down but Roth worked out of the jam. Sophomore Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.) (2-for-4) and senior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-4) began the frame with back-to-back singles off Roth and Palmer popped up a bunt attempt for the first out. Sophomore Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) earned a free pass to load the bags and Roth answered with a strikeout of junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and had junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) ground out.
Fontana doubled with two down in the fifth to raise his hitting streak to a career-high nine games but Roth had Pigott fly out to right field to keep the Gators scoreless.
USC tacked on four more runs on four hits in the sixth to build an 8-0 lead. Williams led off with his second homer of the season into the left-field bleachers and Beary followed with his third double down the left-field line. A sacrifice bunt by Wingo moved Beary to third and Matthews drew a walk, ending the night for Johnson (5.1 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 5 K). Mooney greeted senior Matt Campbell (Tampa, Fla.) with a double to left field that brought in Beary and an RBI grounder by Bradley, Jr., increased the Gamecocks’ lead to seven runs. Walker stroked an RBI single into left field to plate Mooney with the eighth run.
A sacrifice fly by Walker brought home Mooney for a 9-0 lead in the eighth inning. Mooney led off with a single off freshman Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.), moved into scoring position on a throwing error by Washington and went to third on a wild pitch. Walker flew out to center field to drive in his teammate with USC’s final run.
An RBI single in the ninth by Adams spoiled Roth’s bid for his first career shutout. Sophomore Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (3-for-4) and Washington had consecutive base-hits with one down and Adams singled into right center to score Zunino and prompt a pitching change. Junior Jeff Moyer (Winter Springs, Fla.) drove in Washington with an RBI grounder off senior John Taylor to finalize the margin at 9-2. The Gamecocks out-hit UF, 13-10, as all nine starters had a hit for the third-straight game.
Sophomore Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (3-0, 0.85) will start for the Gators tomorrow against junior Steven Neff (2-0, 2.49). The game will begin at 7 p.m. and be carried live on FOX Sports Florida. For all of the latest information on Florida baseball, log on to http://www.gatorzone.com/baseball/ or, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow the team’s Twitter account @GatorZoneBB at www.twitter.com/GatorZoneBB.
· The crowd of 5,586 fans was the most for an SEC game for the Gators, eclipsing the 5,363 for the UF-Georgia game on May 14, 2010.
· Florida suffered its second loss of the season at home (7-0 to Georgia Southern on March 8).
· Brian Johnson had surrendered five runs in 29.1 innings this season entering tonight. South Carolina reached him for four in the third inning.
· Mike Zunino’s 11-game hitting streak is now one shy of his career high.