Errors doom Gators as Gamecocks win 2-1 in 11

By Adam Silverstein
June 28, 2011

The No. 2 Florida Gators maintained a one-run lead for most of the game but a combination of clutching hitting and excellent defense from the No. 4 South Carolina Gamecocks, along with a pair of throwing errors from Florida, propelled South Carolina to a 2-1 victory in 11 innings on Monday in game one of the 2011 College World Series Championship Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NE.

The Gamecocks (54-14) trailed for the first 7.2 innings of the game but scored a run in the eighth and another in the 11th to hand the Gators (53-18) their second loss of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. South Carolina thwarted multiple opportunities Florida had to score, getting out of a bases loaded, no-outs jam and completing a play at the plate to maintain a tie and ultimately earn the victory.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall got the call for the Gators and was nearly flawless in his outing, tossing 7.2 shutout innings before giving up a run in the top of the eighth. He struck out six (in the first six innings), gave up three hits and walked one; at one point, Randall retired 18 of 19 batters (including 10 in a row).

The Gamecocks rolled out freshman Forrest Koumas, who was impressive striking out four in 5.2 strong while allowing three hits and a walk. He was replaced by Tyler Webb and John Taylor (8-1), who combined to pitch 4.1 shutout innings in his stead.

Florida got on the board first, manufacturing a run in the bottom of the third. Junior left fielder Tyler Thompson led off with a walk to start the inning, advanced over to third base on a ground out and wild pitch, and scored when freshman third baseman Cody Dent flied out to left on a sacrifice.

It took South Carolina five innings to respond, but the Gamecocks created a similar scoring opportunity of their own. Randall walked shortstop Peter Mooney, the first batter he faced in the eighth, and found him on third after a sacrifice bunt and fly out to right-center. Second baseman Scott Wingo followed with a hard single up the middle to tie the game 1-1 and send Randall to the showers.

The Gators found themselves with a prime opportunity to win the game in the final frame of regulation. Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino got on with a walk to start the ninth, and Florida loaded the bases on a single and intentional walk with no outs. However, the Gators hit consecutive groundouts to Wingo to end the inning without plating a single run. Thompson’s grounder resulted in a force out at home plate, and junior right fielder Daniel Pigott hit into a 4-2-3 game-saving double play to end the ninth.

Both teams had a chance to put things away in the 10th but ultimately failed. South Carolina got a pair of runners on base via two singles, but junior left-handed pitcher Nick Maronde recorded the final two outs of the inning. Dent singled for Florida in the bottom of the inning but was ultimately thrown out at home on a hard hit single by Zunino to left.

After a line out to start the 11th, Maronde (0-1) gave up a single to first baseman Christian Walker. When he was replaced by junior RHP Greg Larson, Walker attempted to steal second and succeeded after Zunino threw the ball into the outfield. Trying to get Walker out at third, senior center fielder Bryson Smith committed the second throwing error of the play, allowing the batter to score and the Gamecocks to take a 2-1 lead.

South Carolina called on closer Matt Price and, just two days after throwing 95 pitchers over 5.2 innings, Price (S 19) retired three of the four batters he faced.

The Gators and Gamecocks will go head-to-head in game two of the CWS Championship Series on Tuesday at 8 p.m. (ESPN). Projected Starters: Florida – Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson (8-0, 2.43 ERA), South Carolina – Michael Roth (13-3, 0.98 ERA)

15 Comments

  1. GatorRx says:

    Talk about a terrible day. I had my worst day at work in over a year, then I came home to watch that meltdown. I hate to say it, but we deserved that loss. Bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the 9th and we can’t close the deal? That was hard to watch. I can only imagine how bad the team must feel.

    I don’t see realistically how we can win at this point, unless the players and coaches use this as motivation and dig deep. USC is playing like champions, and have players stepping up in the clutch. Our “top” hitters are so cold I can’t even understand it. I know the opposing pitching is good, but that’s no excuse. We need some leaders to step up.

    That said, I think the two best teams made the finals, and I hope that I’m wrong and we turn it around big tomorrow.

    • g8ter27 says:

      Hate to say it but I agree. You give up one run in the first 10 innings……you should win that game. Gamecocks are not known for their long ball offense like we are so when it goes cold, we are in trouble. That said… Go Gators!!!!

      • Mr2Bits says:

        My blood was absolutely boiling after the bases loaded, no outs and we couldn’t hit the ball past the freaking 2nd baseman. Absolutely pathetic. The worst part of all that was is that USC came out of that inning with a huge momentum swing. Once I saw that, I knew we’d lose the game one way or another.

    • GoRays! says:

      They were extremely lucky and we weren’t.

      That’s all it was.

      Luck was not on our side last night

  2. GatorCooken says:

    I think we just bunted again…..sigh

    • GatorRx says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one that wants to throw my remote at the TV when we bunt what feels like once per inning. Let them swing away! Come on!

    • Mr2Bits says:

      It would be nice if we bunted but as you recall, we can’t even put down a sac bunt.

  3. David says:

    If Dent had done to third on the bunt with no one covering the bag, we win. It was just a USC’s day ….

  4. cline says:

    our 3-5 hitters have got to step up tonight. GO GATORS

  5. Joe says:

    This has now replaced the Choke at Doak at the biggest choke job in Gator history. Give credit to USC. They play sound fundimental baseball, have timely hitting and don’t beat themselves, something we just can’t seem to grasp.

  6. John S. says:

    This was a game of inches, and we just missed several opportunities. The strike zone was inconsistent, hell Randall struckout the tying run only for it to be ruled a walk. If Dent keeps his line coming home and runs through the catcher instead of around him we win as well.

    USC now definitely has the advantage especially with the rotation, but this team can hit against anyone. We just have to get it done tonight.

    Go Gators…

  7. Andrew says:

    The sac bunt with man on first is driving me nuts! What the he’ll is this little league? Classic game, too bad the gators were on the wrong end of it.

  8. Jesse C says:

    Small ball got us here since our sluggers have been in a slump in the CWS. We had our chances for sure but I don’t see us losing two in a row. It would be nice to get at least one win in the final this time. GO GATORS!

  9. GoRays! says:

    Ye of little faith.

    Same people who probably said it was over when MS st went up on us late in Game 3 of the Super.

    Every break went SC way last night. Missed calls, seeing eye singles.

    These guys are good enough to win two games in a row

    • GatorRx says:

      It isn’t lack of faith, it’s just looking at the odds. I agree that they are good enough, no doubt. They are just going to have to put their foot on the gas and play some good offensive ball, and not try to depend on bunts and sacrifices. We need some runs actually driven in as opposed to conceding an out just to move someone over or plate one base runner.

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