May 4, 2008
Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina had three two-run homers from Justin Smoak, James Darnell and Phil Disher that helped pace a 12-hit attack as the Gamecocks defeated Florida 9-6 to win the rubber game of a three-game SEC baseball series. Carolina improves to 33-15 and 13-11 in the SEC while the loss drops Florida to 28-18 and 13-11 in the conference. South Carolina returns to action on Wednesday night with a non-conference tilt at Wofford with first pitch scheduled for 7 pm.
Carolina reliever Nick Godwin worked five innings of relief and allowed just three runs on eight hits to pick up the win. He is 5-2 on the year. Reliever Parker Bangs came on in relief and got the final out of the game on a strikeout to earn his second save of the year. Florida reliever Kyle Mullaney suffered the loss and is 0-4 this season. He allowed two runs on three hits in 0.2 innings of work.
Disher went 4-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored to lead the Gamecocks at the plate. The home run for Disher was his 15th of the season. Whit Merrifield also had two hits in the game. Eight of nine Gamecock starters tallied at least one hit on the afternoon. Smoak’s 19th home run of the year gave him 58 for his career to tie him for ninth on the SEC All-Time career list. Darnell’s homer was his 15th of the season. Florida had 12 hits including three from Avery Barnes and two apiece from Matt den Dekker, Bryson Barber and Riley Cooper.
South Carolina held an early 3-0 lead after the first inning. Carolina took advantage of one Florida error and Disher hit a two-run homer off of Florida starter Patrick Keating.
The Gators would tie the game at three apiece in the top of the fourth inning on the back of home runs from Bryson Barber and Riley Cooper. Barber drove a 0-1 pitch from Carolina starter Blake Cooper for a homer to right field followed by Cooper’s blast to left field, also on a 0-1 count tying the game for Florida.
Florida would take its first lead of the game in the fourth inning with two more runs on back-to-back RBI singles by Bryson Barber and Riley Cooper. The fourth inning featured a rare occurrence as well with the Gamecocks recording all three outs on two pickoffs by Godwin and a caught stolen base. Godwin picked off both Barber and Cooper and Disher threw out Clayton Pisani at second base to limit the Gators to only two runs in the inning. South Carolina had three pickoffs in the game with Godwin totaling two and Cooper also adding one. Godwin has eight pickoffs on the year for Carolina.
South Carolina would regain the lead in the fifth inning with four runs. Whit Merrifield singled followed by Justin Smoak’s two-run homer to left field to end the afternoon for Keating that tied the game at 5-5. Disher kept things going then against Mullaney with a one-out double and Harley Lail singled to give Carolina runners on the corners with one out.
Andrew Crisp put USC ahead 6-5 then with a RBI sacrifice fly and DeAngelo Mack recorded a two-out RBI single to give South Carolina the 7-5 edge. Florida crept to within a run in the top of the sixth inning with a run against Godwin. Avery Barnes tallied a one-out single followed by a base hit by Josh Adams. Barnes would then score on Cole Figueroa’s RBI sacrifice fly to left field.
South Carolina grabbed a three-run lead then with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Smoak walked with one out with Darnell hitting a 1-1 pitch from reliever Tony Davis for a two-run homer to left field as South Carolina went ahead 9-6.
The Gators looked to mount a rally in the top of the ninth inning as Matt den Dekker doubled with two outs followed by a walk to Barber to bring the tying run up in the form of Riley Cooper. With Cooper already with two hits on the afternoon, South Carolina summoned Bangs in relief who struck out Cooper looking on a 2-2 pitch on the outside edge of the plate to preserve the Gamecock victory.
South Carolina has now defeated Florida in SEC series play in eight of the last nine years (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008).