No. 1 Gators bite back, even series with No. 6 Gamecocks

Top-ranked Florida raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and belted four home runs on the way to an 8-2 victory over No. 6 South Carolina on Friday evening in front of a sellout crowd of 8,242 fans at Carolina Stadium.

The Gators improve to 21-2 and 4-1 in league play while Carolina is now 17-6 and 1-4 in the SEC. The rubber game of the series is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Florida starter Brian Johnson earned the victory and is now 4-0 on the year. He allowed two runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. South Carolina starter Forrest Koumas lasted only one-plus inning in his first start of the season. He allowed six runs on four hits with five walks and three strikeouts. He is now 1-2 on the year.

The Gators jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning against Koumas. With one out, Daniel Pigott reached base on a single to left field and Preston Tucker worked the count full until he drew a walk giving the Gators a pair of runners. Mike Zunino would put Florida on the scoreboard with a three-run homer to left-center off the first pitch he saw from Koumas. That was followed by Brian Johnson, who went back-to-back, with a solo home run to left field that just cleared the wall in the corner. After loading the bases, the Gators added a run on a balk charged to Koumas. Johnson helped himself out again in the second inning with a two-out RBI single that increased the lead to 6-0.

Christian Walker opened the fourth inning with a solo home run, his third of the year to cut the deficit to 6-1. Florida went back ahead by six runs on their third homer of the game in the sixth inning, a solo shot by Vickash Ramjit. South Carolina answered in the bottom half as Walker walked with two outs and scored on Brison Celek’s double to the gap in left-center to make it 7-2. Ramjit’s second homer of the game in the top of the ninth inning gave the Gators an 8-2 edge.

Ramjit finished with three hits for the game. Tucker and Johnson also had two hits apiece as a part of a 10-hit day for the Gators. Walker was 1-for-2 with two runs scored and Celek was 2-for-3 to lead the Gamecocks at the plate.

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