Special to The Sun
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Brady Singer pitched six strong innings Friday to lead No. 2 Florida to a 7-3 win over South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference baseball opener.
Singer (5-0) allowed just one run on two hits with seven strikeouts. Michael Byrne pitched the final two innings to record his fourth save of the season.
The Gamecocks (12-6) struck first on LT Tolbert’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the first inning.
Florida (17-3) stormed back in the fourth inning, taking advantage of a leadoff walk to JJ Schwarz. Jonathan India singled and both runners advanced on a long fly ball from Deacon Liput. Blake Reese stroked a single back up the middle to bring in both runners for a 2-1 lead.
The Gators extended the lead in the fifth on Deacon Liput’s two-out, RBI single that scored Nelson Maldonado from second.
Maldonado added a two-run double in the sixth inning to make give Florida a 5-1 lead.
“Any time you get a road win in this league – it’s not easy to do,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “There were a lot of weird things that happened in the game, obstacles that we needed to get over. I thought Brady was solid in his start, got us through six innings. Michael did what Michael does at the end there.”
South Carolina tried to fight back with runs in the seventh and eighth, but a two-run home run from India in the top of the ninth closed the door.
The teams will play Game 2 starting t 4 p.m. Saturday.
“I thought our approach at the plate was really good, we were really frustrated early on,” O’Sullivan said. “We laid off some up fastballs and that was the whole key for us tonight.Those two runs there in the ninth ended up being really important because they had two runners on with only one out before we doubled up one of their fastest runners. I thought all-in-all it was a solid game for us. I’m really, really pleased with how we played offensively.”