GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida sophomore Kamm Washington snapped a 1-1 tie with a lead-off homer in the seventh off South Carolina sophomore All-American reliever Matt Price (1-2) to help the top-ranked Gators (21-3/4-1 SEC) square their weekend series with the fourth-ranked Gamecocks (17-5/3-2 SEC) on Saturday night 2-1 in front of 4,859 fans at McKethan Stadium.
UF sophomore Hudson Randall (4-0) went the distance for his first career complete game and retired the final 19 USC hitters of the contest. The righty gave up five singles, permitted an unearned run and registered four strikeouts without issuing any walks. In lowering his earned run average to 0.66 on the campaign, Randall has not allowed any earned runs in 15.2 innings of league action versus No. 5 LSU and defending national champion South Carolina.
Washington’s first homer since Feb. 20, 2010, against USF came on the first pitch of the home part of the seventh and landed in the left-field bleachers. Price had taken over for freshman Forrest Koumas, who had pitched brilliantly over a career-high six innings in his starting debut, limiting the Gators to two hits and an unearned run while totaling five strikeouts.
“South Carolina has a great lineup,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “They’re aggressive and swing early in the count, often swinging hard. They have some strength in their bats and in their wings and kind of put us on our heels early in the game. I thought Huddy (Hudson Randall) settled in there after the third and ended the ballgame with 19 in a row. He’s a warrior, he was outstanding tonight and that’s exactly the performance we needed.”
“This is a big game for us, we did not play well last night. I don’t want to take anything away from South Carolina because they played outstanding and beat us in all phases of the game in pitching, hitting and defense and they beat us pretty good so to come back tonight and to get a win was huge for our team.”
“We had a bad loss yesterday,” Randall acknowledged. “I wanted to come in and even things up to give us a chance to win the series. Luckily, my pitch-count was in my favor and I could finish it off myself. I just try to be as competitive as possible on the mound and be a bulldog out there. I don’t strike many people out, I pitch to contact. Using the defense, using our team, that’s what I do.”
The Gamecocks had scored the first run of the game in the second inning courtesy of a throwing error to take a 1-0 lead. Junior Jake Williams had a one-out single off Randall and senior Brady Thomas followed with a base-hit into left field for runners on the corners. A grounder by senior Robert Beary was misplayed by junior third baseman Jeff Moyer, enabling Williams to come home. However, Randall had senior Scott Wingo line out to senior Josh Adams for an inning-ending double play.
USC had a pair of two-out singles in the third by junior Jackie Bradley, Jr. (2-for-4) and sophomore Christian Walker (1-for-4), but Randall closed the frame by punching out senior Adrian Morales. The visitors would not have any hits the rest of the night.
Florida loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the stanza and managed the tying run on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Nolan Fontana. Washington was hit by a pitch to start the frame and a throwing error by third baseman Morales allowed Adams to reach before Moyer was plunked to fill the bags. Fontana tied the game with his second sacrifice fly of the season into left field but Koumas rebounded to have both junior Daniel Pigott and junior Preston Tucker fly out to strand the runner.
Sophomore Mike Zunino collected UF’s first hit off Koumas with two down in the fourth, matching his career-high hitting streak of 12 games. The righty responded by striking out Washington. Although Adams opened the fifth with a single down the left-field line, Koumas retired the next three Gators.
Tucker drew a leadoff walk in the sixth and Koumas had sophomore Austin Maddox ground into a 6-4-3 double play before issuing a free pass to sophomore Brian Johnson. The rookie right-hander sent the game to the seventh tied with a strikeout of Zunino.
The Gators put two runners aboard with two down in the eighth, as Maddox and Johnson earned back-to-back walks. Price fanned Zunino to keep the Gamecocks down by a run entering the final inning. Facing the heart of the Gamecocks’ order in the ninth, Randall induced three-straight pop-ups to complete the outing. His previous high of eight innings had occurred twice last season.
Freshman Karsten Whitson (3-0, 2.52) will face a USC pitcher to be announced in Sunday’s finale at 1 p.m. that will be shown on Sun Sports and on GatorVision Online.