Gainesville, Fla. - Despite a quality start from senior left-hander Nolan Belcher, eighth ranked South Carolina fell 3-2 to Florida on Thursday evening as the Gators took advantage of a pair of errors to score two unearned runs and earn the one-run victory over the Gamecocks in game one of a three-game series. South Carolina is now 27-8 and 8-5 in the SEC with Florida now 17-18 and 6-7 in league play. Game two of the series is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday night with the game televised live on CSS and available on the Gamecock Radio Network from IMG College including flagship station, 107.5 FM, "The Game."
Florida starting pitcher Jonathon Crawford worked 6.2 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts to pick up the win. He is now 2-5 on the year. Belcher hurled his second complete game and allowed three runs, one earned, on seven hits in eight innings with a walk and two strikeouts. He suffered the loss and is 5-3 for the season. Florida right-hander Johnny Magliozzi pitched one inning of scoreless relief to earn his seventh save of the season.
The Gators broke ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning. Justin Shafer led off with a base hit to left field followed by a single by Vickash Ramjit to center. Shafter scored the first run on a throwing error by Gamecock third baseman George Iskenderian. On the play, Josh Tobias dropped down a sac bunt down the third base line. Iskenderian's throw went high and past second baseman Chase Vergason covering first and Shafer scampered home from second with the first run of the game. Mike Fahrman added a RBI single as well to give the Gators a two-run cushion.
The Gamecocks answered with a pair of runs in the top of the third inning to tie the game. Tanner English reached base to open the frame on a hit by pitch and Graham Saiko followed with a single. With two outs and runners on second and third base, English would score on a wild pitch by Crawford. LB Dantzler then drove in Saiko with a RBI single to right field.
Florida regained the lead in the fourth inning with one more unearned run off of Belcher. Ramjit led off with a bunt for a base hit and advanced to third with one out as Harrison Bader executed the hit and run. A throwing error would allow Ramjit to score as a throw by Gamecock catcher Grayson Greiner to throw out Bader on a stolen base attempt went wide of second base and sent Ramjit to home with the third run of the game for the Gators.
Trailing 3-2, the Gamecocks mounted several rallies but could not come up with the tying run. Dantzler just missed a base hit with two outs and Saiko on third base in the seventh inning as his hard grounder was gobbled up by UF second baseman Casey Turgeon. In the ninth inning, TJ Costen led off with a walk and was sacrificed over into scoring position. With two outs, Chase Vergason singled to right field. Costen rounded third and was heading for home but slipped and when he attempted to get back to third base was thrown out going back for the third and final out of the ninth inning to end the game.
"It was a tough game for us tonight," said South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook. "Belcher pitched his guts out. We didn't help him much defensively but you have to give Florida credit. They put some pressure on us and made some things happen."
South Carolina lost despite a 9-7 advantage in hits. Vergason, Bright and Greiner all finished with two hits apiece o lead the Gamecocks at the plate. Shafter and Ramjit both had two hits to lead Florida at the plate.