GAINESVILLE, Fla. | Behind a pitching gem, flashy defense and two big innings, the No. 4 South Carolina baseball team throttled No. 1 Florida 9-2 Friday night at McKethan Stadium.
Gamecocks lefty Michael Roth (5-1) stifled the Gators over a season-high 8 1/3 innings, scattering 10 hits and striking out six.
With the help of some nifty glove work by third baseman Adrian Morales, the junior sidearmer had his best performance of the season and ended the Gators’ 10-game winning streak.
“We played very well tonight,” USC coach Ray Tanner said. “You can’t beat Florida unless you’re at your best, and we played a great game.”
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South Carolina carried over its hot bats from midweek games against College of Charleston and Rhode Island, pounding Florida ace Brian Johnson in his worst start this season.
In their past three games, the Gamecocks (17-4, 3-1 SEC) have scored 50 runs, and their nine runs against the Gators were the most Florida (20-3, 3-1) has given up this season.
“Everybody is locked in and has a little bit of confidence and some swag in them,” Morales said. “We just tried to be aggressive and tried to give Mike some runs early.”
After stranding several baserunners in the first couple of innings, the Gamecocks broke through with four runs in the third. Sparked by a leadoff triple from right fielder Adam Matthews, South Carolina’s first four batters reached base.
Using an aggressive approach, the Gamecocks drilled several of Johnson’s first offerings for hits.
USC’s shortstop Peter Mooney led the way by going 3-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored.
“Coming out of those two wins with 20-plus runs, it gives us a lot of confidence,” Mooney said. “We’re seeing the ball pretty big right now.”
In the bottom half of the third, Roth escaped his only trouble when Morales made a diving stab and throw on a ball that appeared headed for the outfield.
It was one of several strong plays the senior third baseman made.
“Adrian Morales flashed the leather over at third base and kept that inning from being a tough one to handle,” Tanner said. “He really saved a couple of runs over there.”
The Gamecocks chased Johnson (4-1) in the sixth after the lefty allowed two runs, including a leadoff homer to designated hitter Jake Williams. Entering Friday’s contest, Johnson had allowed five runs all season.
“They just outplayed us in every phase,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “They outpitched us, outhit us and played really good defense. Their third baseman made a couple of nice plays in two different innings.”
The teams square off again Saturday night at 7, with USC lefty Steven Neff (2-0) facing Florida right-hander Hudson Randall (3-0).
|Adam Matthews rf||5||2||1||0||1||2||2||0||4|
|Peter Mooney ss||5||3||3||2||0||1||0||5||0|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. cf||4||1||1||1||1||2||1||0||0|
|Christian Walker 1b||4||1||1||2||0||0||12||0||1|
|Adrian Morales 3b||5||0||1||1||0||2||0||5||1|
|Brady Thomas c||4||0||1||2||0||1||8||0||1|
|Jake Williams dh||5||1||3||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Robert Beary lf||4||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||1|
|Evan Marzilli lf||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|Scott Wingo 2b||3||0||1||0||1||0||3||4||2|
|Michael Roth p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|John Taylor p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Nolan Fontana ss||4||0||1||0||1||1||0||2||1|
|Daniel Pigott lf||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||0||1|
|Preston Tucker rf||3||0||0||0||1||1||1||0||3|
|Austin Maddox 1b||4||0||2||0||0||0||8||1||0|
|Ben McMahan dh||3||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0|
|Vickash Ramjit ph||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Mike Zunino c||4||1||3||0||0||0||7||1||0|
|Kamm Washington cf||4||1||2||0||0||0||5||0||3|
|Josh Adams 2b||4||0||2||1||0||0||3||5||0|
|Tyler Palmer 3b||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||1||0|
|Jeff Moyer ph/3b||2||0||0||1||0||1||0||0||0|
|Brian Johnson p||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0|
|Matt Campbell p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Daniel Gibson p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Keenan Kish p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
E - Washington(1); Palmer(1). DP - S. Carolina 2. LOB - S. Carolina 10; UF 8. 2B - Mooney(6); Beary(3); Fontana(6). 3B - Matthews(2). HR - Williams(2). HBP - Thomas. SH - Wingo(4). SF - Walker(1).
|Michael Roth W,5-1||8.1||10||2||2||2||6||0||0||0||0||33||35||5||12||109|
|Brian Johnson L,4-1||5.1||8||7||6||2||5||0||0||1||0||24||28||4||7||83|
Win - Roth (5-1). Loss - Johnson (4-1). Save - None. WP - Gibson(2). HBP - by Johnson (Thomas). Pitches/strikes: Roth 109/71; Taylor 8/6; Johnson 83/58; Campbell 27/17; Gibson 13/10; Kish 19/10.
Umpires - HP: Jeff Head 1B: Danny Everett 3B: Jack Cox
Start: 7:06 pm