No. 5 Florida drops 14-inning decision at No. 25 South Carolina

Special to Gatorsports.com

COLUMBIA, S.C. — It took a while before No. 25 South Carolina defeated No. 5 Florida 9-8 in the SEC series opener Friday.

How about 14 innings, or if you are keeping time, 5:31, the longest game in Florida baseball history, surpassing a 16-inning, 5:12 contest against LSU in 1996.

Not that Florida (16-6, 3-1 SEC) didn't have its chances in the game that started at 7:02 p.m. before 1,938 fans.

In the top of the 14th inning, Nathan Hickey gave the Gators an 8-7 lead, but the Gamecocks (14-6, 2-2) had an answer in the bottom half, using a two-out home run and the eventual game-winning double off the bat of Colin Burgess to secure the victory.

The Gators took advantage early, drawing three straight walks to open the contest. With the bases loaded, third baseman Kirby McMullen snuck a grounder through the right side to hand Florida the prompt, 2-0 lead.

The Gamecocks responded in the second, scoring four runs on six hits. After the Gators got one back in the third, UF retook the lead by scoring two runs in the fifth. Freshman Sterlin Thompson came through with the big hit, singling to right to push the score to 5-4.

The Gators continued to chip away at the Gamecocks bullpen, plating single runs in each of the sixth and seventh innings to take the 7-4 lead. A sac-fly to shallow left off the bat of Hickey scored Josh Rivera and then Jacob Young scorched a single up the middle to bring home Mac Guscette.

South Carolina then scored two in the seventh and another in the eighth to extend the game to extra innings.

Hickey paced the Gators with his 2-for-3 effort, knocking his fifth home run on the season, while scoring twice, driving in two and walking four times. UF walked 14 times on the evening and collected nine hits.

In total, 10 pitchers were used as Ben Specht (0-1) was tagged with the loss. The Gators bullpen tossed 9 2/3 innings in the opener.

The teams play again at 4 p.m. today (SEC Network+) with UF sending right-hander Jack Leftwich (4-0) to the mound vs. Carolina righty Brannon Jordan (1-2). The series closer starts at noon Sunday on the SEC Network.