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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

South Carolina sweeps Florida for the first time since 2006

Pitching struggles persist in the Gators 8-5 loss to the Gamecocks Sunday

Pitching struggles crafted the narrative for the entire weekend, and Sunday wasn’t different. Photo from UF-Jacksonville March 13.
Pitching struggles crafted the narrative for the entire weekend, and Sunday wasn’t different. Photo from UF-Jacksonville March 13.

South Carolina catcher Colin Burgess stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the second inning. 

He dug his cleats in the clay and eyed Barco and the pitch before he launched the fifth pitch of the at-bat over the wall in right field. 

Left-handed starting pitcher Hunter Barco gaped and stared blankly at the wall. He mouthed the question “how?” and shook his head in confusion. 

Sunday’s finale against South Carolina ended in a similar fashion to previous games as the Gators fell 8-5 against the Gamecocks, the first time Florida loses the matchup since 2006. 

Pitching struggles crafted the narrative for the entire weekend, and Sunday wasn’t different. 

Partially due to a very windy afternoon, the game looked more like a home run derby than a series finale. In the bottom of the second inning, Barco gave up three nearly identical solo shots into right field. 

In the third, Barco gave up another one-run shot off Brady Allen’s bat. That one landed in the Gamecocks’ bullpen and marked the final homer Barco gave up for the remainder of his outing. 

Barco trudged through five innings before head coach Kevin O’Sullivan called for relief. The left-hander gave up six hits and four earned runs over 82 pitches. 

The relief brought more destruction than assistance. 

Right-hander Ben Specht hit the first batter he faced and walked another to give the Gamecocks two baserunners. Then, a George Callil double off the wall in right-center scored two. Another Allen home run, this time to center field, scored two more to give South Carolina an 8-3 lead.

The Gators were once again held relatively silent at the plate. The team was plagued by strikeouts, as the Gamecocks fanned 14 Gators.

In the second inning, first-year right fielder Sterlin Thompson slapped a line drive out of the park in right field for his first home run as a Gator. 

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In the top of the fourth inning, catcher Nathan Hickey reached on an error to get a runner on base to set the stage. Then, third baseman Kirby McMullen launched a two-run shot over the wall in dead center.

The Gators tried to make things interesting in the top of the eighth. Shortstop Jordan Carrion walked, and right fielder Jacob Young knocked a blooper into right field to put runners on the corners. Hickey launched a double into left-center, which scored Carrion and Young and put the Gators within three.

The rally ended there, and the Gators suffered a sweep at the hands of the Gamecocks for the first time in more than a decade. The series marked the first time the Gators found themselves on the wrong side of a sweep since Georgia May 2019. 

The Gators look to bounce back from the weekend disappointment back in Gainesville against Mercer Tuesday. 

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

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