South Carolina’s baseball team (20-14, 3-10 SEC) fell in its series opener 9-5 to the Florida Gators (23-13, 5-8 SEC) on Thursday night in Gainesville, Florida.
Coming into the series, the all-time series record between the two schools was tied at 46 wins.
The Gamecocks had an early chance to get on the scoreboard in the second inning. Redshirt sophomore Luke Berryhill and senior Jacob Olson each hit a single to start the inning, but the Florida defense got out of the inning with a double play.
Junior pitcher Reid Morgan started on the mound for the Gamecocks, coming in with a 3-1 record and a 2.60 ERA. However, head coach Mark Kingston said Morgan didn't play to his full potential.
“It was just a fluky thing,” Kingston said in an interview with Gamecock Central. “[Morgan] obviously has plus-plus command, and for that one that inning, he walked the two lead-off guys, and it wasn’t close, and then threw a bunch of balls right in the middle of the plate and above the belt like he never does.”
In the third inning, after Morgan’s walks to start the inning, Florida sophomore Brady McConnell hit a three-run home run. The Gators continued to rally with five consecutive base hits, leading to a 6-0 Florida lead. When speaking to the team after the game Kingston said he still sees Morgan as a valuable player.
“[Morgan] has had your back all year,” Kingston said. “He had a tough outing tonight, had a tough inning tonight, so you need to have his back.”
The Gamecocks recorded their first run of the game in the fifth inning. Freshman Jonah Beamon walked to start the inning, and junior George Callil hit an RBI sacrifice-fly to cut the lead to 6-1.
The Gators responded in the bottom of the fifth. Freshman Kendrick Calilao singled, followed by a RBI double from freshman Cory Acton, increasing the Gators’ lead to 7-1.
South Carolina cut the Florida lead to 7-3 in the seventh inning after a couple of walks and a wild pitch. The Gators, however, had a two-run inning of their own in the eighth. Calilao singled to get it started, followed by an Acton double and a walk, making the score 9-3.
South Carolina had two runs in the ninth, but it was not enough to overcome the Gators’ early scoring, as the Gamecocks fell by a final score of 9-5.
“We hit some balls hard, obviously we made a run there at the end,” Kingston said. “That’s their best pitcher out there tonight, and that’s their closer, so they gave us their best shot tonight, and I thought we battled.”
First pitch for game two of the series is set for Friday night at 6:30 in Gainesville, Florida and can be viewed on SEC Network Plus.