By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com Contributor
No. 1 seed Florida Gators baseball (38-20) fought off elimination on Thursday in the 2014 Southeastern Conference Tournament, responding to a two-run deficit by scoring seven unanswered runs and earning a 7-2 victory over the No. 4 seed South Carolina Gamecocks (42-16) at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Alabama.
South Carolina jumped out to an early lead through its first three frames, but Florida answered with a three-run bottom of the third and never looked back.
The Gators may not be near the top of many offensive categories within the league, but UF sure knows how to capitalize on opponent mistakes.
With a runner on first and two out, sophomore shortstop Richie Martin (1/5, RBI, R) attempted to bunt for a single. The play would have resulted in a third out had USC pitcher Jack Wynkoop not dropped the ball, allowing Martin to run to safety at first base.
Instead of moving into the fourth inning down 2-0, Florida took advantage of the situation with back-to-back RBI singles from junior catcher Taylor Gushue (1/4, 2 RBI) and junior first baseman Braden Mattson (1/4, RBI), jumping ahead 3-2.
Mattson’s RBI would prove to be the game-winning run, but UF was far from finished at the plate Thursday afternoon.
Junior second baseman Casey Turgeon (3/5, 2 RBI, R) and Martin both chipped in with consecutive RBI singles in the fourth inning. Junior third baseman Josh Tobias (1/4, HR, RBI, 2 R) got in on the action by belting his first homer of the 2014 season in the sixth. Turgeon then continued his top notch day in the bottom of the eighth, plating junior right fielder Justin Shafer (1/3, 2 R, BB) to push the Gators’ run total to seven.
Junior left-handed hurler Bobby Poyner (5.0 IP, 2 H, BB, K) shut down the Gamecocks and earned the win in relief of freshman LHP A.J. Puk (4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K).
Florida now prepares for its second-straight elimination game on Friday when it takes on No. 5 seed Mississippi State at 7 p.m.