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Sunday June 17, 2012South Carolina Defeats Florida, 7-3; Gators Face Kent State On Monday In Elimination Game

Gainesville, Fla.

South Carolina (46-17) overcame a 2-0 deficit with a five-run fifth inning on its way to a 7-3 victory over Florida (47-19) in front of 25,291 fans on Saturday night at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha to complete the second day of the 66th NCAA College World Series. With their 22nd-straight NCAA Tournament victory, including 12 in a row at the CWS, the Gamecocks advance to meet SEC rival Arkansas (45-20) on Monday night in the winner's bracket contest at 9 p.m. Meanwhile, the Gators will face Kent State (46-19) in an elimination game at 5 p.m. on ESPN2.

Sophomore Erik Payne (1-for-4) delivered a bases-clearing three-run triple, while junior LB Dantzler (2-for-5, two runs) had an RBI double and junior Chase Vergason (2-for-5) added a run-scoring single in the fifth-inning outburst that helped USC seize control of the contest. Senior Michael Roth (8-1) scattered seven hits and yielded three runs over 6.1 innings to pick up the victory and was followed to the mound by junior Tyler Webb (0.2 IP) and senior Matt Price, who notched three strikeouts and gave up two hits over two scoreless innings to collect his 12th save of the year. Gator junior left-hander Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (8-5) surrendered eight hits and five runs over four-plus innings to take the loss.

South Carolina loaded the bases against Johnson in the first inning but came away empty-handed. Junior Evan Marzilli (2-for-4) reached on a one-out error by junior first baseman Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) and junior Christian Walker (2-for-4, two runs) followed with a single through the right side of the infield for a pair of Gamecocks aboard. Johnson struck out senior Adam Matthews and USC executed a double steal for two runners in scoring position. Payne walked on four pitches to fill the bags and Johnson worked out of trouble with a key strikeout of Dantzler.

In the bottom of the frame, junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk from Roth and the left-hander responded by having senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) ground into a 5-6-3 double play and junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) strike out.

Vergason poked a one-out single into right field in the second and was sacrificed to second by junior Dante Rosenberg before Johnson had freshman Joey Pankake fly out to Tucker in right field.

In the next Gators' turn at the plate, senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) walked with one down but was thrown out at second trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt. Soon after, Roth had freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) hit a comebacker to mound to retire the side.

Marzilli doubled off of the right-field wall to begin the third for South Carolina and went to third base on a fly ball to straightaway center field by Walker. Johnson fanned Matthews for the second time in the contest and had Payne fly out to center field to keep the game scoreless. 

Tucker (2-for-5) provided the Gators with a 2-0 lead in the home part of the inning with a two-out, two-run double into left field. Freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) (2-for-4) delivered UF's first hit with a leadoff single to right field and Ramjit followed with a base-hit into left center to put the Gators in business. Freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) popped up a bunt attempt to Roth and a fielder's choice by Fontana erased Ramjit at second base. With runners on the corners and two down, Tucker sent Roth's initial offering into left field for his 17th double, bringing home Shafer and scoring Fontana all the way from first base. After Zunino was walked intentionally, Johnson grounded out to Roth to complete the stanza.

The Gamecocks put their first two runners aboard in the fourth but were held at bay by Johnson. Dantzler led off with a single up the middle and freshman Tanner English (2-for-3) won an 11-pitch at bat against Johnson by drawing a walk. Johnson fielded a bunt by Vergason and threw out Danzler at third base and then caught freshman pinch hitter Grayson Greiner looking on strikes for the second out. Pigott made an over the shoulder catch in center field on a ball hit by Pankake to preserve the Gators' two-run advantage.

South Carolina exploded for five runs on five hits in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead, highlighted by a bases-clearing triple by Payne. Marzilli doubled to right center to open the inning and went to third on a single by Walker. Matthews walked to load the bases with none out and Payne emptied them with a triple to the base of the wall in left center. Dantzler doubled off the wall in center to give USC a 4-2 lead and prompt a pitching change. Senior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) replaced Johnson (4.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 K, 3 BB) and English laid down a sacrifice bunt to push Dantzler to third base. Vergason plated his teammate with a single into shallow center field and was thrown out by Pigott trying to stretch the hit into a double.  

Zunino's school-record 11th sacrifice fly of the campaign in the bottom of the inning narrowed the gap to 5-3. Tobias opened with a single into left field and Fontana was hit by a pitch before a grounder by Tucker advanced both of his teammates. Zunino flew out to left field to bring home Tobias and Roth had Johnson ground out to end the inning.

Pankake started the sixth with a sharp single into left field, ending the night for Larson (1.0 IP, 2 H). Marzilli greeted freshman Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) with a sacrifice bunt that moved Pankake into scoring position and the rookie was replaced by sophomore Keenan Kish (Worcester, Pa.). The right-hander had Walker ground out and had Matthews line out to Fontana to hold the deficit at two runs.

Ramjit started the Gator seventh with a single into right field and Tobias followed with a base-hit into left field. Fontana sacrificed the runners to second and third and South Carolina made a pitching change, bringing in Webb for Roth (6.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 K, 3 BB). The lefty had Tucker fly out to left field on the first pitch and then walked Zunino intentionally for the second time in the contest to load the bases. The move paid off when Webb induced an inning-ending fly out to right field by Johnson to protect the two-run margin.

Kish set down the Gamecocks in order in the eighth, with a pair of strikeouts, and Price entered the game for Webb in the bottom of the inning. Marzilli made a phenomenal catch to deny Pigott of a leadoff hit, then Price struck out Turgeon and Shafer.

Aided by a pair of errors, the Gamecocks tacked on two runs in the ninth to finalize the 7-3 count. Walker drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second by Matthews. A wild pitch from Kish (3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 4 K) pushed Walker to third and junior Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) was summoned from the bullpen. The southpaw uncorked a wild pitch that enabled Walker to score for a three-run lead for the Gamecocks. Rodriguez struck out Payne and committed an error on a ball hit by Dantzler before English reached on an infield hit for two runners aboard. A throwing error by Ramjit on Vergason's grounder allowed Dantzler to score and USC to have runners on second and third. Freshman Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) replaced Rodriguez (0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R) and walked Greiner before having a grounder by Pankake force Greiner at second base.

South Carolina had a 12-9 advantage in hits and did not commit any errors. For all of the latest information on Florida baseball, log on to http://www.gatorzone.com/baseball/ or follow the team's Twitter account @GatorZoneBB at www.twitter.com/GatorZoneBB

Game Notes

         Florida has appeared in eight NCAA College World Series, including the past three (2010, '11 & '12).

         The Gators are now 3-5 in their opening game of the CWS.

         UF is 27-6 when scoring first this season.

         Senior Preston Tucker's two-run double in the third gave him 258 career RBI, the most among all active Division I players.

         His double was the 70th of his career, third most among active players (behind only the 77 from Jimmy Rider of Kent State and the 73 from Eduardo Gonzalez of Alcorn State).

         Tucker now has 41 RBI in 29 career games in the NCAA Tournament.

          Tucker extended his hitting streak to eight games with his third-inning double and he leads all active players in the NCAA with 595 total bases.

         The bottom third of the Gators' order all delivered multiple hits, as freshman Justin Shafer notched his 10th multi-hit game of 2012, junior Vickash Ramjit posted his ninth and Josh Tobias delivered his eighth of the season.

         Senior Greg Larson made the 121st appearance of his career, three shy of the school record held by Connor Falkenbach (2002-05).

         Freshman reliever Bobby Poyner has held the opposition scoreless in eight of his last nine relief outings after retiring the only batter he faced on Saturday. He has allowed just two hits in 6.0 innings over that span.

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