Founders Park: The Gamecocks continued to ride the long ball en route to a 5-2 series clinching win over visiting Florida, Friday, adding two homers to increase their NCAA lead to 91 on the season. Jack Mahoney (4-1, 3.29 ERA) posted a strong start for USC, allowing just two runs on five hits over five innings against a potent Gators offense that still has not won a game in Columbia since 2018.
After going 0-4 in the series opener Thursday night, Florida’s Jac Caglianone led off the scoring with a moonshot homer in the top of the first, his NCAA-leading 23rd on the season. Cole Messina responded for the Gamecocks in the bottom of the first with a two-run home run of his own, driving in Braylen Wimmer in the process.
The Gamecocks added to their lead in the bottom of the second with a two out, three-run home run by freshman sensation Ethan Petry. It was Petry’s 20th homer on the season, placing him second in the nation behind only Florida’s Caglianone. During the postgame, Petry was asked how it has felt to have so much success against the nation’s top pitchers this season, to which he confidently responded that everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time, and he takes the same approach against anybody and everybody.
Florida had its best opportunity for a comeback in the bottom of the fifth as starting pitcher Jack Mahoney started to run out of gas. He walked the opening batter, gave up a single and narrowly missed out on a double play before throwing a wild pitch to plate Florida’s second run. After a walk to put Gators runners on the corners, head coach Mark Kingston and pitching coach Justin Parker needed to calm down their pitcher. Kingston told us postgame that during the mound visit, they challenged Mahoney to get out of the inning. Mahoney responded by forcing an inning-ending double play to quell the threat.
The USC bullpen was spectacular, with Eli Jones tossing three scoreless innings to set up Chris Veach for his third save of the season. Florida pitchers settled in nicely after a rough start, allowing just one hit over the last seven innings of the game, but unfortunately for them, the damage was already done.
A night after scoring eight runs with two outs, the Gamecocks scored all five runs Friday with two outs, bringing their total to 13 runs with two outs through the opening two games of this series. Those 13 runs are the exact run differential in the series, so far. Founders Park was at full capacity once again, with a raucous crowd from start to finish. No. 6 USC improves to 33-6 on the season overall and 12-4 in the SEC (2nd in East), while no. 3 Florida falls to 31-9 overall and 11-6 in the SEC (4th in East). Game three will be a matinee, with the first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. on the SEC Network+.