Your defending National Champion South Carolina Gamecocks (18-5, 4-2 SEC) brought back a series win from Gainsville this weekend where they defeated the Florida Gators (21-4, 4-2 SEC) by a 2-1 margin. Other than Friday's game, the series was every bit as close as one might expect a match-up of two top 5 teams to be.
In game one the Gamecocks scored in bunches to card a 9-2 victory. USC put up 4 runs in both the third and sixth innings, tacking on an extra insurance run in the ninth inning for good measure. USC starter Michael Roth (5-1, 1.50 ERA) almost went the distance before being pulled with two outs to go. In 8.1 innings of work Roth struck out 6, gave up 10 hits, walked only 2, and did not give up a run until the ninth inning.
As impressive as Michael Roth was on Friday night, the story of the weekend had to be USC's hurlers in the Saturday and Sunday games. On Saturday Ray Tanner chose to pitch freshman Forrest Koumas (2-0, 2.79 ERA) in place of usual starter Stephen Neff, who was sidelined with a strained shoulder. Even though Koumas didn't get the win, he pitched well enough to earn it. In the first start of his young career, Koumas gave the Gamecocks six solid innings in which he struck out 5, walked 2, and gave up a single run (unearned) off of two hits. Young Koumas' effort went for naught after Matt Price gave up a solo home run to lead off the seventh inning. Ultimately, USC would lose the Saturday contest 2-1. Don't feel bad for Matt Price, though. He returned to form in the Sunday match.
The Sunday game also featured a first-time starter for Carolina. Bryan Harper (0-0, 5.59 ERA) did not fare quite as well as Roth or Koumas, but he gave us innings where we needed them. Harper lasted just 2 innings for Carolina, in which he gave up 3 runs on 3 hits. His replacement, Colby Holmes fared much better. Holmes pitched 3 strong innings in which he struck out 2 and allowed just 1 hit. John Taylor and Matt Price followed in succession. In 2.1 innings of work Price allowed just 1 hit while walking none and striking out 1 (and totally redeemed himself, I might add). The Gamecocks held on for the narrow 4-3 victory. Of course, Florida fans might contend that the game would have been a not-so-narrow victory for the Gators if not for a "questionable" call in the sixth inning. Since I wasn't able to watch or listen to the game, I'll let Gamecocks Online fill you in on the details.
"Florida looked to regain the lead in the bottom of the sixth after loading the bases with no outs. With the bags full, Josh Adams knocked a slow roller to third that saw Adrian Morales go home for the force out. On the play and after the force out, Florida runner Brian Johnson slid into home plate and his leg caught catcher Brady Thomas at the plate, who fell down. Interference was ruled on Johnson that made Adams an automatic out and runners had to go back to first and second base. With two outs, Taylor got out of the jam with a strikeout of Zack Powers ending the Gators' threat."
As biased as they might be, I hear our announcers seemed to agree with the umpire's decision. The rules are the rules, and unless you're the Auburn football program, they apply to everyone equally. Tough cookies, Florida.
More wrap-up after the jump.
It wasn't all about the 'Cocks' pitching, though. The Gamecock batters did their part as well. USC complied 13 hits and left 10 runners on base while still scoring 9 runs in Friday's game. The Saturday and Sunday games were less fruitful, but USC still did enough to steal two at a hostile stadium from the team with the lowest ERA in the SEC. In fact, even though Hudson Randall lowered his league-leading ERA from .085 to .66, the Gamecocks raised the Florida team ERA from 2.26 to 2.35. South Carolina lowered it's own ERA from 2.93 to 2.82. Carolina now possesses a team batting average of .296. Adrian Morales continues to impress. He's top-ten in the SEC in AVG (#7, .390), OBP (#4, .510), and BB (#9, 16). Jackie Bradley, Jr. is 6th in the league in slugging percentage (.635) and 2nd in home runs with a mere 6.
You might also be interested to know that Carolina in currently 3rd in the nation in attendance by both average (7,191) and total (111,258). We trail only LSU and Ole Miss, who occupy the #1 and #2 positions, respectively,
This week USC duels with The Citadel on Wednesday before hosting Kentucky in a revenge series. South Carolina leads the all-time series with The Citadel 120-46-1. The series began in 1900.