Special to GC
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Junior Richie Martin drove in a career-high six runs, with a two-run single in the second inning that broke a 2-2 tie, a three-run homer in the fourth and an RBI double in the sixth as No. 10 Florida clinched its weekend series with an 12-5 win over No. 21 South Carolina on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium. The Gators (27-9/8-6 SEC) have taken the last four regular-season series from the Gamecocks (23-13/6-8 SEC) and captured the last five matchups between the SEC East rivals.
Senior Kyle Martin (4-for-4, hit for the cycle) had given USC a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a two-run homer to center field. Junior Max Schrock (2-for-5) had singled through the right side against sophomore Dane Dunningand Martin followed with his team-leading seventh big fly.
The Gators plated four runs on three hits in the second inning off of junior Jack Wynkoop (4-4) for a 4-2 advantage. With one down, senior Josh Tobias (2-for-4, two runs) struck out but reached first base on a wild pitch and freshman JJ Schwarz drew a walk. Sophomore Buddy Reed delivered an RBI single into center field to score Tobias and cut the deficit in half. Sophomore Ryan Larson (2-for-3, three runs) tied the game with a two-out base-knock up the middle and freshman Dalton Guthrie (2-for-3, two runs) walked to fill the bags. Martin put the hosts on top with a two-run single that brought across Reed and Larson and heavy rains forced a weather delay at 6:41 p.m. that lasted 39 minutes.
Florida used a three-run blast by Martin with two down in the fourth to build a 7-2 advantage. Larson and Guthrie had consecutive two-out singles into center field and Martin belted a 1-0 offering from Wynkoop to left field for his third round-tripper of the season.
Over four full innings, Dunning matched his career high of five strikeouts, yielded four hits and allowed a pair of runs. Sophomore A.J. Puk (6-3) collected the win by hurling three innings in which he gave up four hits and two runs, with four strikeouts. Sophomore Kirby Snead (3 H, 1 R) worked the final two innings for the home team.
UF expanded its lead to 9-2 in the sixth, as Martin doubled in Guthrie (two-out single) and then scored on a fielding error on a grounder by junior Harrison Bader. Tobias opened the Gator seventh with his seventh double, went to third on a balk by freshman Clarke Schmidt and scored on a wild pitch for an eight-run margin. After junior DC Arendas delivered a two-run single in the top of the eighth for a 10-4 count, Larson scored in the bottom of the stanza when Martin hit into a double play and Bader launched his team-leading 11th homer. Caldwell had an RBI single in the ninth to bring home Martin with the final run.
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan
On clinching the series vs. South Carolina:
“Offensively, Richie [Martin] had a great night at the plate, and that was an unbelievable play for the double play. That ball gets through, and the next thing you know, it gets a little interesting. Richie had a great night. [Harrison] Bader had a good night offensively, Dalton [Guthrie] had a really good night, and it was good to get Josh [Tobias] back in the lineup. He swung the bat well tonight, and Ryan Larson scored three runs and went 2-for-3. Once again, we got a lot of contributions from a lot of different people. I thought Dane [Dunning] gave us a solid start, other than the pitch to Kyle Martin. He left the ball over the plate and he hit the ball out in center. Overall, I thought it was a solid night for us. Any time you can get a couple wins against a really good team like South Carolina, then you have to feel good about it. We have about 10 guys available tomorrow for the game to pitch. We have the depth and I’m hoping our guys are ready to play tomorrow.”
Senior third baseman Josh Tobias
On the Gators’ offense:
“We’re definitely swinging the bats well. We have never really had a problem with our bats. It’s reassuring for our pitchers, though, that we can swing and score runs, so they can relax and throw over the plate. I think we’re all just buying into the team and having quality at-bats.”
On Richie Martin and the Gators’ defensive play:
“Defense is key. That is our biggest thing. We focus on defense more than hitting. I’m not surprised, Richie is a great shortstop.”
Junior shortstop Richie Martin
On Coach O’Sullivan’s message to the team after the series loss at Missouri:
“Sully told us we need to come together and bring our offense together. We’ve been working hard. We click as an offense.”
On going for the sweep tomorrow:
“It’s really important if we want to stay in the race in the SEC. We need this game. We need to keep pace with Vanderbilt and the teams ahead of us, so tomorrow is really important.”
Sophomore left-hander A.J. Puk
On coming out of the bullpen:
“I just want to come in and try to keep the lead. I felt good. Hopefully the team comes out tomorrow and gets win number three.”
On the Gators’ defense:
“It definitely makes it easy. I just want to throw the ball in there and let the defense go to work. It helps a lot.”
- Kevin O’Sullivan is now 18-11 (.621) against South Carolina, including a 9-2 (.818) mark in Gainesville.
- With the win, UF closed the all-time series gap with South Carolina to 43-40.
- The Gators have now won seven of their last eight contests against the Gamecocks, including five in a row.
- Florida is now 22-3 (.880) in the friendly confines of McKethan Stadium this spring.
- The Orange and Blue is now a perfect 25-0 when out-hitting its opponents.
- Florida tallied seven two-out RBI this evening.
- Richie Martin set a career-high with six RBI, three of which came on his third home run of the season in the bottom of the fourth.
- Harrison Bader had a pair of doubles (season-high) and hit his team-leading 11th homer of the season in the bottom of the eighth.
- Dane Dunning tossed the first four frames and tied a career-high in punch-outs with five.
- A.J. Puk relieved Dunning and picked up his sixth win of the season.
- Ryan Larson made a highlight reel catch in right center to start the seventh inning.
The Gators and Gamecocks will wrap up the series tomorrow at 12 p.m. The game can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Mick Hubert and will be carried on SEC Network with Gabe Gross andTom Hart and through WatchESPN.