North Florida churned out one big offensive inning and utilized solid relief pitching down the stretch to upset #6-South Carolina 8-5 in a weather-delayed game on Tuesday afternoon at Founders Park in Columbia. The loss was USC’s first non-conference home setback of the season and the Gamecocks’ fourth straight defeat overall. It was also Carolina’s first loss to a “Quadrant Four” opponent, as the Ospreys had an RPI in the 200s prior to the matchup. According to WarrenNolan.com and its live RPI tracker, North Florida improved 25 spots with the win, while USC fell from 3rd to 4th following the contest.
With USC leading 1-0, North Florida got its bats going against Dylan Eskew. After relieving starter James Hicks, who tossed one inning of scoreless baseball on a bullpen day for the Gamecocks, Eskew could not survive a disastrous third inning. The sophomore right-hander allowed five runs on five hits, including a hit batsman, before exiting the game with two outs in the inning. Nick Proctor was finally able to douse the flames, but by that time, the damage was already done.
The Gamecocks rallied back to within 5-4 on an RBI single from Carson Hornung and a two-run home run from Evan Stone in the 4th. However, UNF scored two in the fifth and a run in the seventh to keep Carolina at bay.
South Carolina had multiple chances to tie or grab the lead late but left the bases loaded in both the 7th and 8th innings. All told, USC stranded sixteen men on base. North Florida did itself no favors either, leaving fourteen Ospreys on the pond.
The game was delayed in the top of the ninth inning for just over two hours due to lightning in the area.
USC travels to Arkansas this weekend for a three-game SEC series beginning Friday night at 7:30pm EDT.
Mark Kingston — North Florida Postgame