Gamecocks KO’d by Gators, await super-regional fate

Brian Johnson hurled a complete game and was backed by 11 hits including a two-run homer by Mike Zunino as third seeded Florida defeated second seeded South Carolina 7-2 on Friday evening at the SEC Baseball Tournament.

The Gators improve to 42-17 with the Gamecocks now 40-17 on the year. Carolina now awaits word on the 64-team selection for the 2012 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament.

Regional hosts and sites will be announced on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET at www.ncaa.com/cws and on the BottomLine of the ESPN Networks. The 64-team bracket announcement will be televised live on ESPNU, Monday, May 28 at Noon p.m. ET.

Johnson allowed two runs on five hits with no walks and five strikeouts as he went the distance. He is now 7-4 on the year. South Carolina starting pitcher Colby Holmes suffered the loss and is now 6-1 for the season. He allowed four runs on five hits in 2.1 innings with one walk and two strikeouts.

Florida broke ahead 1-0 in the top of the first inning. Nolan Fontana led off the game with a double to right field. After a single by Preston Tucker put runners on the corners, Fontana would score on a RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of Mike Zunino. The Gators increased the lead to 2-0 in the second inning. Casey Turgeon led off with a base hit. With two outs he would score on Josh Tobias’ single to left field.

The Gators made it 4-0 in the third inning with Fontana and Zunino factoring in for the second time. Fontana walked and Zunino increased the Florida lead to four runs on a two-run homer to left field off of Holmes, Zunino’s 16th homer of the year.

The Gators extended the advantage to 7-0 in the fifth inning. Fontana and Tucker each singled with one out. After a wild pitch advanced the runners, the Gamecocks elected to intentionally walk Zunino to load the bases. Brian Johnson would walk with the bases loaded to score Fontana. Gamecock reliever Evan Beal battled back with a strikeout of Daniel Pigott for the second out of the inning. However, Casey Turgeon would knock a 0-2 pitch from Beal into the gap in left-center for a single to score a pair of runs and give the Gators a seven-run cushion.

The Gamecocks would get on the scoreboard in the sixth inning. Tanner English hustled down the line and beat out a grounder that he hit to the shortstop to open the frame. He would then advance to third base on a single off the bat of Chase Vergason, the second hit of the day for the Gamecock second baseman. English scored on a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Joey Pankake.

South Carolina added a run in the ninth inning as Evan Marzilli doubled to left field with two outs and scored on Christian Walker’s RBI single to left field.

The Gators had 11 hits while South Carolina finished with five on the evening. Fontana, Tucker, Turgeon and Tobias all had two hits apiece to lead Florida. Fontana scored three runs with Zunino driving in three for the evening. Vergason finished 2-for-3 to lead Carolina at the plate.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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