South Carolina Baseball: Gamecocks win road series over rival Florida Gators

Mark Kingston's South Carolina baseball team won their first road series of the season against the Florida Gators in Gainesville.
South Carolina baseball outfielder Dylan Brewer
South Carolina baseball outfielder Dylan Brewer / Cyndi Chambers / USA TODAY NETWORK

South Carolina baseball needed to win this weekend to keep their season from potentially falling off the rails, but a road trip to Gainesville stood in the way of that plan. The Gamecocks had lost four of their five series against opponents from power conferences, and a series win was needed in a big way.

Playing in front of a win-starved Condron Family Ballpark crowd, the Gamecocks were able to take two of three from the Florida Gators over the weekend to keep their SEC record above .500 as the gauntlet that is conference play continues.

Friday night's game 1 was over when Eli Jones first toed the rubber. The Gamecock junior held the Gators to just 1 run over 6 innings, and his team led 5-1 by the time Garrett Gainey surrendered 2 runs in the 7th inning. Chris Veach shut the door over the final 2 frames, though, and Florida only plated 3 total runs for the game.

The Carolina offense managed 13 hits in the game, and new leadoff hitter Cole Messina (yes, you read that correctly) led the way with 3 base knocks. He reached base 4 times on the day, stole 2 bases, and scored 2 runs. Parker Noland, Talmadge LeCroy, and Will Tippett all added solo home runs as USC dominated 10-3 to take the series opener.

Starter Ty Good wasn't nearly as dominant as Eli Jones when he took the mound on Saturday, but he still left game 2 with a 5-3 lead. Roman Kimball was great through 3 innings of relief, but with a 9-3 lead, the Gamecocks tried to steal some extra innings with Kimball. He was charged with 2 of his 3 runs in the 8th, and Connor McCreary gave up 2 more as 4 total UF runs in the inning cut the lead to 9-8. Tyler Pitzer came on to close out the 9th, and though he allowed two base runners, he picked up the save.

The Carolina offense was hot again to start the game as the Gamecocks had 3 extra-base hits (including a homer from Ethan Petry) in the first 2 innings. Things slowed down, though, as USC scored just 1 more run over the next 4 innings. In the 7th inning, a big Dalton Reeves homer and doubles from Will Tippett and Parker Noland gave Mark Kingston's team the 9 runs they would need to take the series' second game 9-8.

Game three was a different story. Matthew Becker got tagged for 6 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings of work. Dylan Eskew and Chris Veach gave up 5 more runs in the 6th, so by the time Jake McCoy and Michael Polk threw up zeroes in the 8th and 9th, it was too late for the Gamecocks.

The offense started the game 0-11 with runners in scoring position as they squandered some great opportunities early in the game. An Ethan Petry home run was a big blow as Carolina sought to make things interesting, but even as the USC offense performed better as the game went on (highlighted by 4 Kennedy Jones walks and a Dalton Reeves homer), they couldn't do enough to overcome the Florida onslaught. Jac Caglionone homered for the third time in the series for the Gators as they took the Sunday finale 11-9.

A series win (especially on the road in the SEC) is never a bad thing. Though this year's Florida Gators aren't quite the same as last year's team that played for a national title, the two conference wins are important for a Gamecock team that is holding on for dear life to their postseason chances.

With their five remaining series in SEC play coming against top-5 teams Arkansas and Tennessee and the much-better-than-expected Kentucky Wildcats, Georgia Bulldogs, and Missouri Tigers, South Carolina baseball will have to build off of this series win to keep their postseason resume in good enough standing for a decent bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Gamecocks will play The Citadel on the road in the mid-week. The Tuesday night affair will begin at 7:00 PM EST and will be broadcast on ESPN+. Then, the YardCocks will return home for a three-game set against the #1-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks. Friday's game 1 will begin at 7:00 PM EST, game 2's first pitch will be at 3:00 PM EST, and the Sunday finale will start at 1:30 PM EST. All three games will be on the SEC Network+ and ESPN app.




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