Gators move into first place with series win over Gamecocks

Florida outfielder Buddy Reed had a career-best three hits in Sunday's win over South Carolina.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/FILE
Published: Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 6:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 6:42 p.m.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The No. 15 Florida baseball team completed another impressive week against highly ranked opponents when the Gators took the weekend series from No. 5 South Carolina with a 6-5 win Sunday that gives them sole possession of first place in the SEC East.

The Gators (23-13, 9-6 SEC) lost the series opener Friday, 4-1, before winning Saturday's game 4-3 in 13 innings after being down 3-0 through seven. Sunday's win came after the Gators overcame a 4-2 deficit in the eighth inning and five errors for the game. South Carolina is now 28-7, 8-6.

“The theme of the weekend was we hung in there,” UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “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.”

Florida swept the season series from top-ranked Florida State with an 8-0 win Tuesday in Tallahassee. Last month, UF defeated No. 1 FSU on a Tuesday before sweeping then-No. 8 LSU at McKethan Stadium.

“Yesterday and today we kind of did the same thing,” O'Sullivan said. “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 Gators connected for 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.

South Carolina's 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.

The Gators will play Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers on Tuesday.

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