Special to The Sun
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina evened the baseball series against No. 2 Florida with a 15-7 win Saturday. The rubber match will be Sunday at 1 p.m. at Founders Park.
The Gamecocks (13-6, 1-1 SEC) jumped out to an early lead and held off several comeback attempts before putting the game away with six runs in the eighth inning.
“We played from behind since the first inning, but I thought our offense was really good today,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We had a situation where we got the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning, they fought the entire day.”
South Carolina wasn’t fooled by Jackson Kowar from the start. Leadoff hitter Noah Campbell hit a ball to the right field wall that he turned into an inside-the-park home run. Two batters later, Madison Stokes launched a two-run homer to right field to make it 3-0.
Kowar (3-1) found trouble again in the third inning, hitting the leadoff batter then walking LT Tolbert to put a pair on. After a fly ball moved the runner to third, a called balk brought in a run to make it 4-0.
Who: Florida vs. South Carolina
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Founders Park, Columbia, S.C.
Pitching matchup: UF RHP Tyler Dyson (3-1, 1.07 ERA) vs. TBD
Florida (17-4, 1-1) got on the board in the fourth on Deacon Liput’s RBI single that scored JJ Schwarz. Wil Dalton led off with his sixth home run of the season to cut the deficit to two but the Gamecocks responded.
South Carolina knocked Kowar from the game in the sixth, scoring five runs on five hits to take a 9-2 lead.
The Gators continued to claw back with three runs in the top of the seventh. Nick Horvath hit his third home run of the season and Dalton launched his second homer of the game to make it 9-5.
Blake Reese led off the eighth with a double and scored on Austin Langworthy’s RBI single to cut the deficit to three runs, but the Gamecocks put the game away in the bottom of the inning. USC hit a pair of homers and plated six runs off the UF bullpen. All 15 Carolina runs were earned and the teams combined for eight home runs.
“We just didn’t pitch very well today, I think we had 10 three-ball counts, five resulted in walks and they had a double too,” O’Sullivan said. “We just threw too many pitches. Too many predictable fastball counts. We’ve got to do a better job pitching ahead in the count.”
Jonathan India hit his team-leading eighth home run of the season in the ninth inning for the final margin.