COACHES CORNER

Gamecocks Sweep Gators in Weekend Diamond Series

Dick Cox

March 30, 2021 at 5:07 pm.

South Carolina, the nation’s No. 25 college baseball team, capped off a great weekend with a 8-5 victory over No. 5 Florida and swept the three-game series with the Gators for the first time since 2006. Coming into the series, the Gamecocks had lost five out of six games the previous two weekends against No. 1 Vanderbilt and No. 9 Texas.

It was an unusual weekend for Southeastern Conference baseball as six of the seven league series were three-game sweeps. Only the Georgia-Texas A&M match-up saw both teams win at least once, as the Aggies took the series in Athens, two games to one.

Timely hitting and good pitching were the key to Carolina’s sweep.

Gamecock hitters pounded out five home runs and pitchers struck out 14 Florida batters in the 8-5 win on Sunday. SEC home run leader, Wes Clarke, added to his total, hitting his 13th home run in the second inning.

On Saturday, Carolina defeated Florida, 4-1, as Gamecock starting pitcher Brandon Jordan struck out nine batters in seven innings of work and Clarke belted a three-run home run. Jordan did not allow an earned run and only surrendered one walk, which was intentional, to improve to 2-2 on the year. Brett Kerry earned his second save of the season, striking out three in two innings of relief.

The Friday night game was a thriller as South Carolina came from behind to slide by the Gators, 9-8, in 14 innings in a game that lasted 5:31, and was over in the wee hours of the morning.

In the top of the 14th inning, Florida took a 8-7 lead on a home run by Nathan Hickey. With their backs against the wall, Carolina responded with a solo home run from Andrew Eyster with two strikes and two outs. Jeff Heinrich continued the two-out rally with a single up the middle. Gamecock catcher Colin Burgess became the hero of the night as he stroked a walk-off RBI double in the gap in right field to score Heinrich from first base with the winning run.

Carolina pitchers struck out 19 batters and walked 13 in the game. The two teams combined to leave 29 men on base.

Gamecock pitchers struck out 45 batters during the weekend and held the Gators to a .174 batting average.