South Carolina beat Florida in the opening game 9-3 and then lost the next two 8-2 and 5-4.
Breaking it Down…Michael Roth and Hudson Randall took the hill on Thursday night for a showcase of two of the best pitchers in college baseball for a national audience on ESPNU. When they each left the game, the score was knotted at 2. Randall made it into the 6th; Roth made it into the 7th.
After Roth left in the 7th, Matt Price made his triumphant return to the bullpen and his closer’s role. As he is wont to do, Price struck out the lone batter he faced to get out of the inning. Fueled by the newly created momentum, the Gamecock offense started clicking. Evan Marzilli singled to lead off the inning, and Joey Pankake sacrificed him over. Christian Walker and L.B. Dantzler both walked to load the bases. Kyle Martin came in to pinch hit and roped a two run single down the first base line. After a pop out, Erik Payne doubled to the gap in right center to bring two more home.
After Price worked a quick 8th, the offense came back in and got going again. 2 hits, 2 errors and a walk led to three more runs, and the rout was on. With the pressure off, Price let a run come across in the ninth, but it was ultimately meaningless, and USC took Game 1 9-3.
Friday night Florida got revenge for Thursday’s beating. The Gators hit two home runs in the top of the first to take a commanding 4-0 lead. They added another run in the second and chased starter Forrest Koumas from the game. Nolan Belcher came in and stopped the bleeding and only allowed one more run before leaving the game in the sixth. The Gamecock offense tried to battle back, but couldn’t overcome the tremendous deficit they faced. Both teams added a couple of runs late to make the final 8-2.
On Saturday, Florida struck early again. They plated one in the first and a pair in the third. The Gamecocks rallied again and added two of their own in the fourth and scored the tying run in the fifth. USC got runners to second and third with only one out in the 8th, but two strike outs ended the inning. Florida then got a two out, two run triple in the 9th. Dantzler hit a home run in the ninth to cut the lead to one, but the Gamecocks couldn’t come all the way back.
Stars of the Series…Adam Matthews…4-11, HR, 2 R, 2 RBIs…Joey Pankake…3-10, 2 R, RBI…Brison Celek…3-6 2B, 2 RBI…Michael Roth…6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, ER, 5 K…Matt Price…W,L…4.2 IP, H, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 K…Nolan Belcher…4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R…Tyler Webb…3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 K…
What to Take Away from the Weekend…Losing a series is seldom cause for elation, but the final scores are not all that can be taken away from this weekend. In our preview we said the Gamecocks needed to right the ship and get back on track. To do that, they needed to avoid a sweep and play better baseball. On Thursday night, they got a big win and on Friday and Saturday they battled with the consensus number one team in nation.
In sum, it seems as if the team is headed in the right direction. There are still questions, but the team played well over the weekend. If they can continue to do that, we can start making plans for post season.
Up next…The Gamecocks travel to The Citadel on Tuesday before making the trip to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt for the weekend series. Saturday’s Vanderbilt game will be televised on CSS, and all of the games will be available on radio.