After a lackluster performance on Friday night, the Gamecocks came alive on offense on Saturday to set up a rubber game against the No. 2 Gators on Sunday.
South Carolina took an early lead, scoring three runs in the first inning. Noah Campbell led off with an inside the park home run (!!!!!!), a play on which he was briefly called out at home before that was reversed. TJ Hopkins followed with a single, then came home on a two-run homer from Madison Stokes to make it 3-0.
USC tacked in another run in the bottom of the third inning, thanks to a balk that brought Stokes home. Florida ended the shutout in the next inning with an RBI single that made the score 4-1, then a Gators homer made it 4-2 in the top of the sixth.
The Gamecocks broke things open in the bottom of the sixth, though. Jacob Olson started things off with a single, Campbell knocked a one-out base hit, and Hopkins got hit to load the bases. With two outs, LT Tolbert singled to make it 5-2, Jonah Bride followed with a two-run double that put South Carolina up 7-2, and Matt Williams came through with a two-run double of his own to make the score 9-2.
A pair of Florida homers in the top of the seventh narrowed the gap a bit, making it 9-5. The Gators then pulled within one more run in the eighth inning on a RBI single. The Gamecocks answered in the bottom of the inning by adding a bunch of insurance. Hopkins and Justin Row singled to start things off, then a Tolbert sac fly put USC in double digits with a score of 10-6. Bride followed with an RBI double, Williams walked, and Hunter Taylor went yard with a blast that made the score 14-6. Olson came through with a solo shot after that for the Gamecocks’ final run of the game. The Gators tacked on their last run in the top of the ninth on another homer.
Starter Cody Morris had a solid outing, working 5.1 innings and giving up just two hits and two runs. He also walked one batter and tallied 10 strikeouts. John Gilreath, Hunter Lomas, Carmen Mlodzinski, Eddy Demurias, and Colby Lee also pitched in this game. While Gilreath and Mlodzinski struggled a bit, Demurias did a great job getting the Gamecocks out of a jam in the eighth inning. Morris earned the win and is now 4-1.
With the victory, South Carolina improves to 13-6 overall and 1-1 in conference play, while Florida is now 17-4 overall and 1-1 in the SEC. Sunday’s rubber game is set to start at 1 p.m. at Founder’s Park.