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Florida took the outright SEC East lead with a 6-5 win and 2-1 series win over No. 4 South Carolina.

Sunday April 13, 2014Gators Show No Quit, Rally Again to Take Series from No. 4 South Carolina

Gainesville, Fla.

Florida took the outright SEC East lead with a 6-5 win and 2-1 series win over No. 4 South Carolina.

No. 25 Florida rallied with four runs in the eighth inning to rally for the second time in as many games, giving the Gators a 6-5 win over No. 4 South Carolina, a pivotal 2-1 Southeastern Conference road series win and the outright SEC East lead.  The Orange and Blue showed heart all weekend, overcoming a season high five errors today and scoring a combined eight runs in the eighth inning or later.

 

Florida is now 3-2 in SEC series this year, 23-13 overall and 9-6 in the SEC. The victory dropped the Gamecocks to 28-7 and 8-5 in league play. In addition, Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan earned his 275th career win today.

 

The Gators connected on three consecutive one-out singles to load the bases for third baseman Peter Alonso to start the eighth. Alonso struggled defensively with three errors, but stayed composed and hit a bullet off the shortstop’s glove and into left  Alonso was credited with a fielder’s choice and one RBI as both catcher Taylor Gushue and right fielder Braden Mattson came around to score on the play.

 

First baseman Zack Powers scored Jason Lombardozzi, who pinch ran for designated hitter A.J. Puk, with a double off the bullpen in left. Left fielder Buddy Reed’s career best third single of the game chopped over the third baseman’s head, scoring Josh Tobias, who pinch ran for Alonso.

 

Jordan Gore hit a solo shot to lead off the eighth off of Eric Hanhold to make it a 6-5 game, but Hanhold recovered with a strike out and a 6-3 double play to end the inning. Hanhold pitched a perfect ninth for his second save of the year. Dane Dunning (1-0) notched his first career decision and capped South Carolina’s two-run seventh, which gave the Gamecocks the 4-2 lead. South Carolina starter Will Crowe (6-2) took the loss after allowing five runs (2 ER) on 10 hits.

 

Starter Danny Young (2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 SO) struck out Joey Pankake and forced Kyle Martin to fly out to right with the bases loaded in the second and gave up an unearned run in the first. Florida tallied two runs with some timely two-out hitting in the third. Reed started things off with a single and center fielder Harrison Bader reached safely on a two-out error. Gushueand Mattson hit consecutive singles up the middle to score Reed and Bader. Karsten Whitson (2.2, 1 H, 1 R)replaced Young to start the third.

 

Whitson retired five in a row and gave up his first hit on Grayson Greiner’s one-out double in the fifth. A controversial error charged to shortstop Richie Martin after the umpires changed the ruling from out to safeallowed the Gamecocks an extra out, which they used to tie the game at 2-2 on a ground out to the mound. Bobby Poyner struck out DC Arendas to end the inning and proceeded to pitch a harmless sixth before a South Carolina double ended his day and led to two runs in the seventh.

 

Postgame Quotes:

Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan

“I can’t say enough about our team and the way we battled. We left some runs on the board, but the bottom line is that it was a really gritty performance by the whole team this weekend. This is a tough place to play. What can you say? You’ve got to make some big pitches in key situations. We used seven different pitches today, and Eric (Hanhold) made some big pitches in the ninth to keep it right there for us and never gave them a chance at the end. Offensively, we did enough to win. I’ve got to complement their starter. It looked like he was tired in the fifth inning, but hung in there and gave his team a chance to win there.”

 

On the comebacks this weekend…

“Yesterday and today we kind of did the same thing. We got a little rally going in the eighth inning and never gave up. We put some great swings on the ball and it ended up being a great weekend for us. The theme of the weekend was we hung in there. It was frustrating at times because we had some opportunities, but this is what happens on the road. I can’t say enough about our team and the way we battled all weekend. It is very difficult to win on the road in this league. To lose the first one and win the next two should give us a lot of confidence moving forward.”

 

Catcher Taylor Gushue

“Going down early against a team like South Carolina isn’t fun. We showed some resilience and grit the past two days. It’s definitely not easy to play here with the crowd, especially against a really good ball club. Our pitchers did well this weekend and we got big hits in key situations. It’s all you can ask.”

 

Florida Leaders:

  • The Gators offense totaled 13 hits.
  • Seven pitchers combined to limit South Carolina to five runs on seven hits. The Gators struck out six batters on the day.
  • Gushue drove in his team leading 30th run with an RBI single in the third. The base hit extended his hitting streak to a career-best tying and season best 10 games. Gushue’s single in the fifth gives him 12 multi-hit games this season. His single in the eighth gives him three games this season with three or more hits.
  • Alonsoextended his hit streak to six games with a two-out up the middle in the second. Alonso started his first SEC contest and fourth overall at third base.
  • Reed recorded three hits for the first time in his career. The freshman tallied singles in the second, third and eighth.
  • Mattson delivered his fourth third-hit game of his career and 12th career multi-hit game.
  • Turgeon’s leadoff double to open the game was his seventh two-bagger of the season.
  • Powers notched his third game-winning RBI of the season on his third double of the year.

 

Series Nuggets:

  • The two losses at home were only South Carolina’s second and third of the year. The Gators are now 15-23 all-time in Columbia.
  • UF seured its third-consecutive series triumph at Carolina Stadium after notching victories in 2010 (W, W, L), 2012 (L, W, W) and 2014 (L, W, W)
  • The Orange and Blue came back to win 4-3 in Game 2 in 13 innings after trailing 3-0 after seven and 3-2 after eighth. In Game 3, the Gators rallied down 4-2 after seven to win 6-5.
  • Florida defeated South Carolina at Carolina Stadium for the second consecutive series in which Florida dropped the series opener.
  • The Gators have won five of six against South Carolina after sweeping the Gamecocks at home last season.
  • Kevin O’Sullivan is 14511 against South Carolina, 7-2 in Gainesville, 7-5 in Columbia, 1-1 at the SEC Tourney and 0-3 at the NCAA Tourney (all in Omaha).
  • South Carolina’s crowd of 8,242 was the largest the Gators have faced in a true road game this season and the third capacity crowd of the series.
  • South Carolina holds a 43-37 advantage in the all-time series, including a 23-15 record versus the Gators in Columbia.

 

Gators by the Numbers: 

  • Florida moves to 3-12 when trailing after seven innings. The Gators rallied in the final two games of the season.
  • Florida has claimed 17 of its last 24 contests and boasts an 8-7 record away from Gainesville (6-7 in true road games, 2-0 at neutral sites).
  • The Orange and Blue is 10-5 against top-25 opponents, including 8-1 against top-five competition this spring.
  • The duo of Richie Martin (SS) and Turgeon (2B) has started all 36 games at their respective positions. Gushue has started all 36 games this year, with 29 coming at catcher and seven at designated hitter.
  • The Gators allowed a season high five errors.
  • Twenty-one of the Gators’ 36 games this season have been decided by 2 runs or less: UF is 10-5 in 1-run and 4-2 in 2-run games.

 

Road Tripping: Today’s contest was the seventh of an eight-game road trip for the Gators. Florida is 4-3 after the first seven games. The Gators will play Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers on Tuesday.

 

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