GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Junior left-hander Michael Roth allowed just two runs in a season-high 8.1 innings and was backed by an offense that pounded out 13 hits as fourth-ranked South Carolina (17-4, 3-1 SEC) defeated top-ranked Florida (20-3, 3-1) 9-2 on Friday evening in game one of a three-game SEC baseball series at McKethan Stadium.
Roth was strong throughout the night and scattered 10 hits while keeping the Gators off the scoreboard until the ninth inning. He struck out six batters and walked just two as well. With the win, Roth is now 5-1 on the year. Florida starter Brian Johnson had allowed just five runs on the season before Friday night’s game but allowed seven runs, six earned, on eight hits in 5.1 innings with five strikeouts and two walks. He is now 4-1 for the season.
After a pair of scoreless innings, South Carolina stormed ahead 4-0 in the top of the third inning. Adam Matthews got things going as he drilled a triple to the gap in right-center, his second of the season, and scored on Peter Mooney’s RBI single up the middle. A single by Bradley Jr. followed by Walker reaching base on a throwing error by third baseman Tyler Palmer loaded the bases with no outs for Carolina. Adrian Morales would drive in Mooney with a RBI ground out and Brady Thomas drove in a pair of runs with a single to the gap in left-center as Carolina built a four-run cushion.
Florida would try to answer in the bottom half of the third but Roth and the Gamecock defense was able to thwart the Gators from scoring a run. With the bases loaded and one out, Roth caught Daniel Pigott looking on a called third strike and Adrian Morales made a great diving stop on a ball hit by Preston Tucker that ended the frame and preserved the four-run lead.
It remained that way until the top of the sixth when the Gamecocks put up their second four-spot of the game to increase the lead to 8-0 and knock Johnson from the game. Jake Williams led off the inning with a solo home run. A double by Robert Beary and a one-out walk to Adam Matthews gave the Gamecocks runners on the corners with one out.
With reliever Matt Campbell into the game, Carolina shortstop Peter Mooney greeted him with a RBI double to the gap in left-center scoring Beary. Jackie Bradley Jr. added a RBI ground out and Christian Walker tallied a two-out RBI single as Carolina’s lead was extended to 8-0. South Carolina added a little more insurance in the top of the eighth with Walker getting his second RBI of the night via a sacrifice fly to center that scored Mooney.
Florida ruined the shutout in the ninth inning with three consecutive singles including a RBI base hit by Josh Adams followed by a RBI ground out by Jeff Moyer. Gamecock senior reliever John Taylor came on in relief of Roth to get the final two outs and preserve a Gamecock victory.
Mooney led South Carolina’s potent offense, going 3-for-5, three runs scored and two RBI. Williams finished 3-for-5 as well. Walker and Thomas each drove in two runs.
Mike Zunino had three hits to lead Florida with Washington and Adams also tallying two hits apiece.