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Gators' bats are lively late

Avery Barnes, Preston Tucker and Brandon McArthur combined for eight hits and drove in five runs as Florida scored five times in the final three innings to knock off South Carolina 8-3 on Saturday.

Barnes, in his second game in the leadoff spot, had three hits, including a home run to get the Gators started in the first inning. Tucker also had three hits and knocked in a pair of runs, while McArthur collected two hits, including a two-run double that highlighted Florida’s three-run seventh inning.

The Gators (30-14, 12-8 SEC) have taken the first two games of the weekend series with the Gamecocks (27-17, 9-11).

“Every win at this stage of the game is important. I thought they played really well today,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I was really proud of the way our offense responded when they (South Carolina) scored.”

Nick Ebert’s first-inning sacrifice fly gave South Carolina a 1-0 lead, before Barnes lined his seventh home run of the season over the right-centerfield fence and into the Gamecocks’ bullpen to knot the score at 1.

Tucker added a run-scoring double for the 2-1 edge. In the second inning, Teddy Foster smacked a solo homer to the bleachers in left field for a 3-1 lead.

USC’s offense started to click in the sixth inning. Bobby Haney led off with a single and moved to third on DeAngelo Mack’s double to right-centerfield. Ebert then delivered a single to left field that brought home Haney and DeAngelo to tie the score at 3.

The Gators took the lead right back. McArthur, who led off with an infield single, scored when South Carolina shortstop Bobby Haney threw wildly on what could have been an inning-ending double play on a ball hit by Foster.

The next inning, Florida sent eight men to the plate. Matt dan Dekker’s groundout to first base scored Barnes, who had reached on a single, for a 5-3 lead.

McArthur hit a two-out double off USC reliever Curtis Johnson, scoring Pigott and Tucker, for a 7-3 lead.

“Any time you can beat a team like South Carolina on Friday and Saturday, I think you’ve got to be happy with it,” O’Sullivan said. “These last four series of the year, every win is magnified and every loss seems like it is magnified. With us having to go on the road for the next two series, this is a big series for us.”

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