If the rest of the three game series this weekend between USC and Florida at Founders Park are like Friday night, Gamecock baseball fans are in for a treat. In a game played with CWS like intensity, the 20th ranked Gamecocks rallied for two-runs in the bottom of the 14th to stun the 5th ranked Gators 9-8. It’s the third walk-off win of the season for the Gamecocks.
Nathan Hickey gave the Gators an 8-7 lead with a two out solo homer in the top of the 14th off Julian Bosnic. Things looked gloomy for USC in the bottom of the frame after Wes Clarke struck out, David Mendham grounded to third and Andrew Eyster got down in the count 0-2. But Eyster deposited the third pitch he saw from Ben Specht over the right centerfield wall to tie the game at 8-8.
With new life, the Gamecocks kept on plugging. Jeff Heinrich singled up the middle. On the next pitch, Collin Burgess drilled a double into the gap and Heinrich easily beat the throw home to set off a huge on-field celebration as the Gamecock dugout mobbed Burgess around second base.
The 14th inning rally was the second of the night for USC. Florida led 7-6 going to the bottom of the 8th. The Gamecocks got runners to 2nd and 3rd with 1 out and Braylen Wimmer got the tying run home with a double.
The Gamecocks accumulated a season high 20 hits off five Florida pitchers, and half were against starter David Mace. Wimmer, Eyster and Burgess each had 4 hits.
Gamecock starter Thomas Farr pitched into the 5th inning. He allowed 5 runs, 4 of them earned, and 4 hits. He struck out 6 and walked 6. Jack Mahoney and Daniel Lloyd followed and kept the game in reach by allowing 2 runs over the next 3.2 innings. Andrew Peters then pitched a scoreless 4 innings before turning the game over to Bosnic for the last two innings. Bosnic earned the win and is 2-1.
The Gamecocks improved to 14-6 overall and 2-2 in the SEC. Florida is now 16-6 and 3-1 in the SEC. Game two of the series will be Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM.