Florida baseball sweeps No. 8 South Carolina; Gators above .500 for first time since Feb. 20

By Adam Silverstein
April 14, 2013

By Andrew Olson – OGGOA Contributor

It has been a season of ups and downs for Florida Gators baseball (19-18, 8-7 SEC), but the home team was able to end the week on a major high note by completing a three-game sweep of the No. 8 South Carolina Gamecocks (27-10, 8-7 SEC) on Saturday at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

The series sweep was Florida’s first of the season. Saturday’s victory pushed the Gators above .500 for the first time since Feb. 20 while simultaneously extending their winning streak to five games including four-in-a-row over top-10 ranked opponents.

Following a big come-from-behind 4-3 victory over No. 7 Florida State on Tuesday in Tallahassee, FL, Florida started its series against South Carolina on Thursday with its ace – junior right-handed pitcher Jonathon Crawford – on the mound.

Crawford (2-5) carried his team with a solid 6.2-inning outing in which he allowed only two runs to help UF pick up the 3-2 victory.

It was Crawford’s second longest outing of the season and an indication that he may finally be ready to return to his role as staff ace. Crawford was bumped from the No. 1 spot in the rotation after he struggled in non-conference play, but he has won his last two home SEC starts and looks to be the Gators’ top starter going forward.

Poor fielding by the Gamecocks played a large part in the series. On Thursday, sophomore outfielder Justin Shafer and redshirt senior first baseman Vickash Ramjit got on board with back-to-back singles in the bottom of the second. Sophomore third baseman Josh Tobias bunted to move the runners up, but an errant throw from USC 3B George Iskenderian helped UF plate first run of the night.

Two innings later with the game tied 2-2, UF had runners stationed on first and third. When freshman OF Harrison Bader attempted to steal second, the South Carolina catcher’s throw deflected off the second baseman’s glove and into right field, allowing Ramjit to score the game-winning run. Florida held onto the one-run lead for five innings with sophomore closer Johnny Magliozzi collecting his seventh save of the season.

Freshman lefty Danny Young started and allowed eight hits in 4.1 innings in the series’ second game on Friday night before leaving with the Gators trailing 2-1.

Friday’s contest was relatively clean with just one error committed by each team. Florida’s first run, however, was the product of a USC miscue. With freshman OF Richie Martin and sophomore second baseman Casey Turgeon on first and third in the bottom of the first, South Carolina starter Jordan Montgomery made an errant pick-off attempt that allowed Martin to score and give UF a 1-0 lead.

Martin was the only Gators player to cross the plate until the bottom of the eighth, when Florida put together a three-run rally to jump ahead 4-3. Friday night’s hero wound up being Bader, who smacked a two-run single that propelled UF ahead late in the contest. The Gators again turned to Magliozzi to close out the game; he responded with his eighth save despite giving up a lead-off walk, intentional walk and wild pitch.

As Florida moves into the second half of conference play, it will need freshmen like Bader to continue to come through in clutch situations. His play, along with that of his teammates, is giving UF hope where little existed just a few short weeks ago.

Freshman RHP Jay Carmichael struggled with his command in Saturday’s series finale, which was also in his first start back since March 29. He threw just 1.2 innings before leaving the game with the bases loaded in the second inning.

Faced with their first chance this year to capture a weekend-series sweep, the Gators came through in the clutch despite the Gamecocks being determined to salvage the series finale and leave Gainesville on a positive note. For South Carolina, this meant using every arm available in the bullpen. The teams combined to use 12 pitchers; USC was forced to substitute four in the bottom of the sixth inning alone.

And what a frame it was for Florida.

With the game tied 4-4, Ramjit got things started with a leadoff with a double. Martin followed with a single, and Bader walked to load the bases. Tobias, in as a pinch hitter, singled to score Ramjit and spot UF a 5-4 lead. It was the first of 10 runs in what would become a breakout inning for the Gators.

The rally continued and Ramjit finished the frame with two doubles, the first Florida player to accomplish that feat since 1989. The Gators scored eight-straight runs without committing an out in the inning and concluded the frame with a 14-4 lead.

The onslaught of offense was simply too much for the Gamecocks to overcome. South Carolina scored a run in the eighth but that was it for the visitors. Florida won 14-5 and claimed the series sweep.

The big sixth was a sign that last week’s eight-run fifth against Mississippi State was not a fluke. It also indicates that a young team is finally starting to turn the corner.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Ramjit said about frame. “We’ve been working all year and have had our ups and downs. Just to see after this weekend, our hard work is paying off and everything is starting to turn for the better. Everyone is still motivated.”

Despite now having faced five ranked SEC opponents, the Gators are 8-7 in league play and tied with both USC and Kentucky for second place in the SEC East. Florida will look to extend its winning streak to six games when the team travels to Fort Myers, FL on Tuesday to take on Florida Gulf Coast. FGCU swept UF in Gainesville earlier this season, picking up wins of 8-2, 8-3 and 7-4 (11 innings) from Feb. 22-24.

Photo Credit: Dave Martin/Associated Press


  1. joe says:

    10 Runs And None As A Result Of A HR

  2. Marshall says:

    Heck, there were only two doubles and the rest were singles.

  3. Ken (CA) says:

    They were saying during the game yesterday that (prior to winning) USC had only been swept 9 times in the previous 167 SEC series..That’s really impressive, and a good sign for the team.

  4. Donnie W says:

    This team could be finding itself at just the right time. We could very well get into the playoffs and host the first weekend if they continue to play the way they’ve played the last couple weeks. Not saying there a championship caliber team but when your hot good things tend to happen.

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