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Saturday, May 08, 2021

Gators hit the road for first away SEC series against South Carolina

The Gators look to continue their early SEC prowess against the Gamecocks in Columbia

 The Gators travel to Columbia, South Carolina, Friday to take on No. 20 South Carolina in their first away SEC series. Photo from UF-Jacksonville game March 14.
The Gators travel to Columbia, South Carolina, Friday to take on No. 20 South Carolina in their first away SEC series. Photo from UF-Jacksonville game March 14.

The Gators finished SEC Opening Weekend with a clean sweep against Texas A&M. Nearly half the team experienced SEC play for the first time in the Florida Ballpark and emerged victorious. 

Florida now looks ahead to their next conference series, this time away from the comfort of Gainesville. The Gators travel to Columbia, South Carolina, Friday to take on No. 20 South Carolina in their first away SEC series. 

The series marks the third time the Gators hit the road so far this season, and the first time they travel for the weekend. 

While Florida struts into the weekend series after an SEC sweep, the out-of-form Gamecocks stagger into the top-25 matchup. 

South Carolina dropped from No. 12 to No. 20 in Baseball America’s rankings after its series against Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks dropped two games to the Commodores but managed to avoid a sweep Sunday. 

Prior to that series, the Gamecocks dropped all three in their series against Texas. South Carolina’s recent struggles give the Gators an opportunity to stake claim in Columbia with another sweep. 

The Gators also enter this weekend off their longest rest period. The team didn’t play any games midweek for the first time this season.

But to win, Florida needs its starting pitching rotation to stay consistent. 

Lately, weekend starters fourth-year Tommy Mace, fourth-year Jack Leftwich and second-year Hunter Barco catapulted the Gators into success. Their ability to battle deep into games keeps the Florida bullpen full and refreshed. 

Both Mace and Leftwich threw a complete seven innings in their respective starts against the Aggies while Barco threw six. The team only used four relievers throughout the weekend. 

Gators freshmen’s momentum is also key to the series. Over the weekend, catcher Mac Guscette and second baseman Colby Halter shined brightly in the lineup. 

Guscette went 7-12 on the weekend with three RBIs, while Halter went 5-11 with three RBIs. Now that a majority of the team played SEC opponents, their nerves should lessen, and the bats should only grow stronger. 

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The Gators head to South Carolina to kick off the weekend series Friday with first pitch set for 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on SEC+.

Contact Sara Kate Dyson at skatedyson@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @sarakatedyson

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