Founders Park: USC displayed a lot of offensive power in their 13-3, seven inning win over Florida Thursday night in Columbia, but it was their patience at the plate in the sixth inning that turned the game their way. The Gamecocks broke a 3-3 tie with three-straight, two-out, bases loaded walks, each on a 3-2 count, then added seven more runs to close out the Gators with the SEC run rule.
Will Tippett, Dylan Brewer and Braylen Wimmer drew the bases loaded walks. Ethan Petry, who had three hits, including his 19th homer of the season in the first inning, closed out the sixth inning rally with a two-run single to centerfield for an 8-3 lead.
The Gamecocks sent the sellout crowd of 8242 home early with five runs in the bottom of the seventh. Michael Braswell doubled home Gavin Casas, who had led off the inning with a walk. It was the third double of the night for Braswell. With one out, Evan Stone was hit by a pitch. Tippett followed with a sac bunt the third baseman threw wild to first. Braswell and Stone scored for an 11-3 lead.
The Gamecocks then loaded the bases with two outs, and Cole Messina doubled over the centerfielder’s head to plate Stone and Tippett and set off a wild celebration as the players emptied the dugout.
None of this might have happened if starting pitcher Will Sanders hadn’t survived a shaky first inning. He worked his way into a one out, bases loaded jam, but got of it surrendering just one run. He also yielded an unearned run in the 2nd and a run in the 6th, both with two outs, but he limited the Gators to just 3 hits while striking out 10.
James Hicks came in to pitch the 7th, and after a one-out single, he got a ground ball double play to end the inning on 11 pitches.
With the win, the Gamecocks move past the Gators into second place in the SEC East with an11-4 league mark. They are 32-6 overall. The Gators are 11-5 and 31-8.
Game two of the series will be Friday night at Founders Park with first pitch set for 7:00 PM. Jack Mahoney will go to the mound for USC against righthander Hurston Waldrep.