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April 30, 2016

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Junior outfielder Gene Cone broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh with a solo homer to right field and freshman right-hander Braden Webb allowed just one run on five hits in 7.1 innings pitched with seven strikeouts as second-ranked South Carolina evened the series with top-ranked Florida with a 2-1 victory on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd at Founders Park.

The Gamecocks are now 34-9 on the season and 15-5 in the SEC, while the Gators are 37-7 with a 14-6 conference record. With the win, Webb is now 9-2 on the year. Sophomore right-hander Tyler Johnson earned his fourth save of the season after allowing only one hit in 1.2 scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Florida’s junior left-hander Kirby Snead suffered the loss and is now 3-1 on the year after giving up one run on one hit in 1.1 innings pitched.

Cone finished 2-for-3 and now owns a 29-game hitting streak, tied for the longest in Division I baseball.

Both teams traded runs in the second inning. Buddy Reed put the Gators on the board win a one-out solo homer. The Gamecocks responded in the bottom of the second. Dom Thompson-Williams doubled to right field and LT Tolbert drove him in with a two-out single to center.

It remained that way until the seventh when Cone turned on a 2-2 pitch for his third homer of the year to give the Gamecocks a one-run lead.

Florida looked to tie it up in the ninth as Buddy Reed stole second base with one out to put himself into scoring position. Johnson dug deep though and induced a groundout off the bat of Jonathan India and then struck out Ryan Larson to preserve the one-run victory.

Gene Cone’s two-out home run in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the Gamecocks a lead they would not relinquish.

Gamecock right-handers Braden Webb and Tyler Johnson had a combined 10 strikeouts and allowed just one run in the victory.

Gene Cone extended his hitting streak to 29 games, which ties the longest streak in Division I baseball this year. Matt Reardon from Florida Gulf Coast also had a 29 game hitting streak this season. Cone has also reached base in 32 straight games this year, which is the longest streak in the SEC.
– Attendance was 8,242, making it the fourth sellout of the season at Founders Park.

Head Coach Chad Holbrook

“This was just a great college baseball game. A.J. Puk is a big time arm. Tonight I easily saw why they talk about him being the number one pick in the draft in June, and our kids matched him pitch for pitch. Braden [Webb] and Tyler [Johnson] were outstanding. We played great defense. Scoring against those guys is extremely difficult. We found a way to scratch two. Obviously Gene [Cone] getting the big home run in the seventh was the difference. It was all we needed. I never would have thought that two runs would win the game. I have to give credit to what Braden and Tyler did against an incredible lineup. I thought our players battled and competed on every pitch in the batter’s box, but their pitchers are just so good and make it so difficult. After what happened last night, I was really proud of our team and they way they came to the park today. They were energized and into it. They invested everything they had in every pitch. Win, lose or draw, if you do that, as a coach you’re proud of your team. I’m a lot more proud because we won. If it hadn’t gone our way I would have been proud of them anyway. We invested about all we had tonight, and for that reason I’m a happy coach. We’ll enjoy this win for about an hour or so, but then we have a quick turn around. Hopefully we come out here ready to win tomorrow.”

The final game of the series between the Gamecocks and the Gators is set for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at Founders Park. It will be broadcast live on SEC Network +. The game can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”