Riding the momentum of back-to-back wins, the No. 25 South Carolina baseball team swept No. 5 Florida over the weekend.
The last time the Gamecocks swept the Gators was in 2006. It was a great weekend for the team's pitching as it struck out 45 batters, along with holding the Florida offense to a .174 batting average over the three games.
Down to its final strike, the Gamecocks found a way to come away with a win, defeating Florida 9-8 in 14 innings. In what turned out to be an all-time classic, head coach Mark Kingston described the victory as an "unbelievable game that I don't think anyone will ever forget."
"If you're in the game long enough, you get some games that just — you just don't know how to describe and you'll remember for the rest of your life," Kingston said. "That was surely one of them."
With the game tied at seven in the 14th, redshirt sophomore southpaw Julian Bosnic surrendered a go-ahead home run that took the air out of Founders Park for a moment.
With two outs, senior right fielder Andrew Eyster crushed a game-tying solo home run into the South Carolina bullpen.
"When Eyster fell behind with two strikes there, with two outs — disbelief when I saw his ball traveling into our bullpen," Kingston said.
Following a single from senior infielder Jeff Heinrich, sophomore catcher Colin Burgess ripped a game-winning double into the gap, giving the Gamecocks their third walk-off victory of the season.
"It felt really good. I was trying to stay relaxed and calm," Burgess said. "I didn't know I could hit a ball to right field that far either, so that was good."
Following a tough outing from redshirt junior ace Thomas Farr, the South Carolina bullpen was the catalyst in the come-from-behind victory, giving the offense a chance to be successful.
In four shutout innings, redshirt junior right-hander Andrew Peters allowed one hit while striking out five. As for Bosnic, other than one bad pitch, he looked sharp as he struck out five batters in two innings.
The offense found its groove and finished with a season-high 20 hits on Friday night.
After an offensive game on Friday night, the Gamecocks and Gators engaged in a pitching duel on Saturday afternoon as South Carolina came away with a 4-1 victory.
A three-run home run from junior designated hitter Wes Clarke in the fifth was ultimately the deciding factor in the second game of the series. It was Clarke’s 12th home run of the season.
“They’ve been pitching me away, away, away all weekend so I just look for that pitch, something to demoralize, hit out to right field, and you know I got it, and I did what I was supposed to and I was very happy with it,” Clarke said.
Starting pitcher Brannon Jordan led South Carolina, throwing nine strikeouts in seven innings — the longest outing for a Gamecocks starter this season.
The senior righty stood out in crucial moments for the Gamecocks as he forced the Gators to leave five runners on base, including three in a bases-loaded situation in the fourth with a three-pitch strikeout.
Junior right-hander Brett Kerry also contributed on the mound as he closed out the last two innings with three strikeouts and no allowed runs. The pitching duo also forced Florida to go three up, three down in three innings.
Using the one reliever in Kerry was critical for Sunday’s game as the Gamecocks used four relievers on Friday in the 14-inning barn burner.
“That’s exactly what we needed out of Brannon,” Kingston said. “When you play a 14-inning game, you have to expend a lot of your resources to try to win that game last night so what you hope happens today is your starter gives you length … That was a big win for today.”
The Gamecocks bats were active again in the final game of the series Sunday afternoon. South Carolina hit five home runs in the 8-5 victory in the final game of the season.
Clarke kickstarted the South Carolina offense after he hit a solo home run in the second inning — his 13th on the year.
Following Clarke's bomb, Eyster homered to right to make it 2-1. Burgess joined the home run train, sending yet another ball over the right-field fence to put the Gamecocks up 3-1.
Junior center fielder Brady Allen had a productive day from the plate, going 3-5 with two home runs and three runs batted in.
Allen's two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth proved to be the nail in the coffin for the Gamecocks. Allen brought home fifth-year shortstop George Callil after he doubled home two more runs.
Freshman right-hander Will Sanders was fantastic on the mound in his fourth start of the year. Sanders pitched four innings allowing two hits, one walk and three runs with two of them earned, and he was credited with the win.
Taking over in the fifth, Bosnic retired all but one batter he faced. His five strikeouts helped the Gamecocks keep the Gators hitters under wraps.
The Gamecocks will be back in action Tuesday as the team plays host to Gardner-Webb at 7 p.m. The game can be viewed on SEC Network+.