Gator baseball back at .500 after late rally
Published: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 3:04 a.m.
For the second straight night, Florida took a one-run lead into the top of the ninth inning against South Carolina. For the second straight night, Florida looked to closer Johnny Magliozzi to finish it.
Who: No. 8 South Carolina (27-9, 8-6 SEC) at Florida (18-18, 7-7)
Where: McKethan Stadium
When: 3 p.m.
TV: ESPN2 Radio: 103.7 FM
And for the second straight night, the Gamecocks had the tying run on second base with two outs.
And for the second straight night, Florida got a much-needed victory.
Magliozzi struck out Brison Celek to end the game and give Florida the series with a 4-3 win. The Gators reached .500 for the first time since March 9.
“I don't want us counting wins,” said Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan. “I just know we're starting to show some more grit and finishing out games.”
Florida (18-18, 7-7 SEC) has won four in a row and seven of its last nine.
“We can't get ahead of ourselves,” O'Sullivan said. “I'm pleased with how we're playing and competing.”
The Gators couldn't get a lot going against South Carolina's Jordan Montgomery and Adam Westmoreland for seven innings and trailed 3-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth.
But in the eighth, the Gators struck for three runs. Freshman Harrison Bader's two-run single with two outs gave UF the lead.
With closer Tyler Webb sidelined with an injury, the Gamecocks stuck with Westmoreland, who threw 67 pitches in the game.
Josh Tobias' RBI grounder off Westmoreland pulled the Gators within a run before Bader's hit to left field. Vickash Ramjit slid in ahead of the tag for the winning run.
“I was just looking for something I could handle,” Bader said. “It was a huge win.”
Florida entered the week 1-7 in one-run games but has now won three one-run games in a row.
“It has been tough,” Bader said. “But you play it game by game and pitch by pitch and that makes it a lot more simple.”
The two teams play again today at 3 p.m. to complete the three-game series.
Florida took the lead in the bottom of the first on a throwing error by Montgomery and Danny Young kept working out of jams. He gave up three hits in the first but no runs.
“That was odd,” O'Sullivan said. “Eight pitches, three hits and no runs.”
But in the third, Graham Saiko singled and Chase Vergason doubled to start the inning. Florida looked as if it was set to walk Gamecock slugger LB Dantzler. But after a visit to the mound by Kevin O'Sullivan, Young pitched to Dantzler and struck him out.
After Celek was intentionally walked, Max Schrock hit a grounder that appeared to hit him in the right shoe. But the umpires missed it and Schrock, who did not run, was thrown out at first while Saiko scored to tie the game.
Connor Bright hit his third home run of the year with one out in the fourth, a shot to left that just cleared the fence, to give the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead.
They added a run in the top of the eighth and appeared to be in control, especially since Florida entered the game 1-13 when trailing after the seventh inning.
“I think the unsung hero was our bullpen,” O'Sullivan said. “Mags made it interesting in the ninth. And that was the biggest hit of Bader's career. We ask a lot of him.”