It’s on to the NCAA Tournament for USC. The second seeded Gamecocks’ stay in the SEC Tournament was again a short one. They lost to Florida Friday night 7-2 in an elimination game.
The Gamecocks have not won more than one game in Hoover since going 2-2 in 2007. They exit this year with a 1-2 mark with a win over Auburn and losses to Vanderbilt and Florida in what could be called the Jack Leggett Bracket. All three Gamecock opponents were coached by former assistants of the Clemson coach.
Florida will meet Vanderbilt Saturday in the second semi-final game of the day. The Commodores had Friday offer. Mississippi State defeated top seed LSU 4-3 in 10 innings in the first game Friday. The Bulldogs will face Kentucky in Saturday’s first game. The Wildcats were idle on Friday.
USC falls to 40-17 with the loss and may have suffered a fatal blow to its hopes of being a top eight national seed for the NCAA Tournament. USC was ninth in the RPI going into Friday’s games, but the loss dropped the Gamecocks to 10-12 against teams ranked in the RPI top 30.
Florida built a 4-0 lead in the first three innings and was never really threatened as junior lefthander Brian Johnson shut down a Gamecock offense that had 13 hits the night before. He allowed just five hits, four of them singles, in recording the first complete game of his career. And he only needed 89 pitches to do it.
Johnson was so dominating, he set the Gamecocks down in order in six of the nine innings. It is Johnson’s second win of the season against the Gamecocks. He beat them 8-2 March 23rd allowing two runs and five hits over six innings.
AUDIO: Ray Tanner [4:05]
AUDIO: Christian Walker [2:06]
The Gators scored single runs in each of the first two innings, then catcher Mike Zunino drilled the last pitch of the night from Colby Holmes deep over the left field wall for a two run homer in the third. It was his 16th roundtripper of the season.
Holmes lasted just two and a third innings allowing five hits and four runs. It was his shortest outing of the season.
AUDIO: Colby Holmes [1:46]
Florida padded the lead with three runs off Evan Beal in the fifth. A bases loaded walk forced in the first run, and Casey Turgeon’s two out single to left brought in the final two runs of the inning.
The Gamecocks scratched out a run against Johnson in the sixth. Back to back singles by Tanner English and Chase Vergason to lead off the inning put runners on the corners. Joey Pankake grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to score the run.
USC added a final run in the ninth on a double by Evan Marzilli and a RBI single by Christian Walker.
The Gamecocks not only lost the game, they may have lost pitcher Forrest Koumas for next weekend’s regional. He left the game after throwing a pitch in the eighth inning. Gamecock coach Ray Tanner said Koumas reirritated the elbow injury he suffered earlier in the season.