#Gamecocks fall to Florida 5-4 in game one of Super Regional (AUDIO)

Will McGillis heads home after one of his two home runs (Gamecock Athletics)

Gainesville, FL: USC scored three runs in the first two innings, but Florida’s pitchers kept them off the board again until the ninth while the Gator offense scored five unanswered runs, and the Gators downed the Gamecocks 5-4 in game one of the NCAA Super Regional in Gainesville. The game was played in front of 8439 fans, the largest on campus crowd ever for a college baseball game in the state of Florida.

Game two will be Saturday at 3:00 PM, weather permitting, with Florida needing one win to advance to the CWS and the Gamecocks looking to force a third game on Sunday.

The Gamecocks jumped on top 2-0 in the first when Will McGillis hit the second pitch of the game for his 13th home run of the season, and Gavin Casas later added a two out RBI single. The Gators quickly tied the game in the bottom of the inning on a two-run homer by Josh Rivera, his 17th on the season.

The Gamecocks responded in the second with a leadoff single by Dylan Brewer, a sacrifice bunt by Will Tippett, and an RBI single by McGillis. They eventually loaded the bases with one out, but the chance for a big inning ended when Cole Messina hit a bouncer back to the pitcher who started a 1-2-3 double play.

USC starter James Hicks protected the lead into the bottom of the fifth inning. He gave up just two hits in the second through fourth innings, but he yielded a leadoff homer to Tyler Shelnut in the fifth, his seventh of the season, which tied the game at 3-3.

USC coach Mark Kingston made the decision to replace Hicks, who was at 56 pitches, with Will Sanders to start the bottom of the sixth. After striking out the first two batters, Sanders was taken deep by BT Riopelle, the former Coastal Carolina standout catcher, for his 16th home run of the season and sixth in the postseason.

The Gators added an insurance run off of Sanders and Nick Proctor in the eighth. Sanders gave up a one-out walk to Rivera and was replaced by Proctor. He got Riopelle to pop up for the second out but gave up a single to Shelnut which scored Rivera from second for a 5-3 lead.

After giving up three runs and seven hits to the Gamecocks in the first two innings, Florida starter Brandon Sproat set the Gamecocks down in order in the third and fourth innings. Then came a key moment of the game in the top of the fifth.

Braylon Wimmer hit a shot back at Sproat that the pitcher knocked down with his bare hand and recovered, but he threw wild of first for an error. When attempting to turn for second, Wimmer and the first baseman collided. The first base umpire Greg Street pointed at the collision which appeared to indicate an obstruction call. Wimmer, after getting up off the ground, trotted toward second. All the while, Shelnut raced in from right field to pick up the ball and fire to second. Wimmer was tagged before he reached the bag and was called out. USC coach Mark Kingston proceeded to engage the umpires in a long argument, but the out call at second stood.

Ethan Petry followed with a sharp single that may have scored Wimmer from second had he been awarded the bag. Petry then tried to steal second but was thrown out. Messina then walked, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Riopelle, but he was stranded when Talmadge LeCroy struck out swinging.

Sproat was replaced by Cade Fisher to start the seventh and gave up a two-out double to Ethan Petry, but Messina grounded out the pitcher to end the inning.

Fisher retired the Gamecocks in order in the eighth. Brandon Neely, who had 12 saves on the season, came on to pitch the ninth. He retired the first two batters then gave up a home run to McGillis as the Gamecocks moved to within 5-4. But Wimmer hit a sharp ground ball to third to end the game.

Sanders took the loss for USC and dropped to 4-4 on the season. Sproat earned the win and is 8-3. Neely picked up his 13th save. The Gamecocks are 42-20, the Gators are 49-15.

Box Score

Gavin Casas had an RBI single in the first inning (Gamecock Athletics)

Mark Kingston, Braylen Wimmer, Will Sanders

Kevin O’Sullivan

James Hicks allowed six hits and three runs over five innings (Gamecock Athletics)

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