Gainesville, FL - Florida (19-18/8-7 SEC) exploded for 10 runs on eight hits in the sixth inning to break a 4-4 stalemate en route to a 14-5 victory over No. 8 South Carolina (27-10/8-7 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. In capturing their season-best fifth game in a row, all against ranked foes, the Gators totaled a season-high 17 hits to sweep the Gamecocks in a regular-season series for just the fourth time in school history and second time under Kevin O’Sullivan. UF has taken eight of its last 10 contests to move over the .500 plateau for the first time since Feb. 20, when it was 3-2.
“Any time that you get a sweep against anybody in this league, it’s a great weekend,” O’Sullivan said. “And, against a team like South Carolina – they’ve got a great team. It was just one of those odd innings, in the sixth, that we really put some good swings on the ball, found some holes and put runs together. I thought that we battled the entire day. We got a lot of contributions from a lot of different people in the lineup and we had a season-high in hits, with 17. We used six different pitchers and I thought everybody did their job. We walked more guys than we’re accustomed to, but overall, it was a great team victory and a great team weekend.”
After South Carolina tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the sixth, senior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) (3-for-3, three runs) opened Florida’s extended at bat with a double to left field and went to third on a single into right field by sophomore Connor Mitchell (Tampa, Fla.) (1-for-3, two runs). Sophomore Evan Beal came in for freshman Jack Wynkoop (4-2, 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 K) and walked freshman Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) (1-for-3, two RBI, two runs) to load the bases with none out.
Sophomore Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) came through with a pinch-hit RBI single off of freshman Vince Fiori to bring home Ramjit with the go-ahead run. After an RBI single by sophomore Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (3-for-5, two RBI) into left field scored Mitchell, freshman Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) (2-for-5) ripped a two-run single into right field to plate Bader and Tobias for an 8-4 count. After Gushue was hit by a pitch, freshman Curt Britt came in for Fiori (3 H, 4 R) and uncorked a wild pitch that scored Turgeon and advanced Martin and Gushue into scoring position.
Sophomore Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) (2-for-4) roped a two-run double into left center to increase the margin to 11-4 and moved to third base on a base-hit into left center by redshirt sophomore Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) (3-for-5, two runs). Ramjit notched his second double of the inning down the left-field line to score Shafer and Mitchell’s RBI grounder brought Powers across. Bader’s first career sacrifice fly into center field enabled Ramjit to come home with the 10th run of the stanza and a 14-4 cushion, marking the most runs that the Orange and Blue had scored in an inning since 11 against Kentucky on April 2, 2005.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Ramjit said about the Gators’ prolific sixth inning. “We’ve been working all year and have had our ups and downs. Just to see after this weekend, our hard work is paying off and everything is starting to turn for the better. Everyone is still motivated.”
“We’ve done something like that before; against Mississippi State with eight runs [last Sunday in the fifth inning],” Tobias said. “We were just seeing pitches up, hitting them and attacking early. We weren’t getting two strikes or anything. We saw pitches in the count and putting good swings on them.”
The Gamecocks had seized a 1-0 lead in the second inning on bases-loaded walk to junior Graham Saiko. Freshman Max Schrock (2-for-5, three RBI) began the frame with a base-hit into right field and went to second on a one-out single into right field by sophomore Grayson Greiner (2-for-3). Freshman Jay Carmichael (Cape Coral, Fla.) plunked sophomore Joey Pankake to load the bases and had sophomore Tanner English foul out to Powers for the second out. Saiko earned a free pass to bring home Schrock with the opening run and Carmichael (1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K) was replaced by sophomore Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.). The lefty had senior Chase Vergason (2-for-5) fly out to center field to strand the runners.
Florida countered with four runs on five hits in the bottom of the frame to grab a 4-1 lead. Powers roped a one-out single up the middle off of senior starter Colby Holmes and moved to second base on a balk. A base-hit into left field by Ramjit was followed by a squeeze bunt by Mitchell that scored Powers with the equalizer. A throwing error on the play by senior LB Dantzler allowed Ramjit to take third and Mitchell to reach second base. Bader moved the Gators in front with an RBI single into center field to plate Ramjit and senior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) executed a safety squeeze to drive in Mitchell with the third run. Turgeon expanded the margin to 4-1 with a single into right field that brought home Bader and ended the afternoon for Holmes (1.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER). Senior reliever Patrick Sullivan had sophomore Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) ground out.
Schrock brought the Gamecocks within 4-3 in the third inning with a two-run homer to right field, his third big fly of the season. Shafer moved from the designated hitter spot for Poyner (0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R) and struck out sophomore Connor Bright before walking Greiner. The righty had Pankake fly out to left field to complete the frame.
A leadoff single by Shafer in the home part of the inning prompted another pitching change, as Wynkoop took over for Sullivan (0.1 IP, 2 H). Powers collected his second hit of the game with a single into left field and Ramjit sacrificed both of his teammates into scoring position with one down. Wynkoop notched consecutive strikeouts of Mitchell and Bader to hold the Gamecocks’ deficit at 4-3.
Pankake started the sixth with a single into left center field and Shafer had English pop up to Ramjit. After issuing a walk to Saiko, Shafer (3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 K, 3 BB) was replaced by junior Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.). Vergason greeted the reliever with a base-hit into left field to load the bases with one down and an RBI fielder’s choice by Dantzler scored Pankake with the tying run and left runners on the corners with two out. Celek drew a walk to re-load the bases but Gibson had Schrock fly out to left field to strand the runners and complete the stanza.
South Carolina finalized the margin at 14-5 on an RBI fielder’s choice by Schrock in the eighth inning. After Gibson (2-0) worked 1.2 innings, giving up two hits and zero runs, freshman Parker Danciu (Delray Beach, Fla.) allowed two hits and a run in the eighth and freshman Eric Hanhold (Palm Harbor, Fla.) closed the game with a scoreless ninth. The Gators out-hit the Gamecocks, 17-9, and did not commit any errors.
The Gators start a four-game road trip on Tuesday night against FGCU (20-11/6-5 A-Sun) in Fort Myers at Hammond Stadium. The contest can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network at 6:30 p.m. with Jeff Cardozo and Adam Schick, live audio and stats will be available on GatorZone.com and fans can also follow updates of each game on @GatorZoneBB, the official Twitter account of the Gator baseball program.