Attendance at McKethan Stadium was expected to be low due to the Florida Gator basketball team taking on Butler in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. Instead, the crowd of 4,859 was rewarded with an outstanding pitching performance by sophomore RHP Hudson Randall who retired his final 19 batters in the first complete game of his career and winning his fourth game of the season. The No. 1 Florida Gators (21-3) defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks (17-5) 2-1, to even the series at one a piece heading into Sunday’s third, and final game of the series.
Randall allowed five hits, struck out four, and walked none, lowering his ERA to .66 as the run was unearned, scored on a throwing error by 3B Jeff Moyer.
Forest Koumas (RHP) started the game on the mound for the Gamecocks, and allowed two hits, struck out five, walked two, and also had a unearned run scored through six innings. Koumas hit three batters: Austin Maddox (1B) in the second inning, and Kamm Washington (CF) and Moyer in the third.
Randall retired the first two South Carolina batters, Adam Matthews (RF) and Shortstop Peter Mooney, before allowing Jackie Bradley, Jr. (CF) a single through the left side. The Gamecocks’s half of the inning ended on a Christian Walker (1B) pop fly to second base.
Koumas set down all three Florida batters in the bottom of the first: Nolan Fontana (SS) struck out looking, left fielder Daniel Pigott flied out to center field, and right fielder Preston Tucker grounded out to second base.
Third baseman Adrian Morales opened the top of the second with a ground out to short stop. Jake Williams, batting as designated hitter for the Gamecocks, singled to center field. Catcher Brady Thomas followed with a single to left field that advanced Williams to third base. Robert Beary (LF) reached on a throwing error that scored Williams, unearned. Second baseman Scott Wingo lined into a second-to-first double play to send the inning to the half.
After hitting Maddox by a pitch, Koumas made quick work of the Gators in the bottom of the second. Designated hitter Brian Johnson grounded into a double play and Mike Zunino (C) fouled out to first base.
Matthews had a lead off fly to right field for the first out in the top of the third inning. Mooney swung at the third strike, but Zunino couldn’t hang on to the ball and had to throw to Maddox at first for the out. Bradley, Jr. and Walker had back-to-back singles before Randall struck out Morales swinging for the third out.
The Gators’ would tie the game up in the third with Washington getting hit by Koumas’ second pitch of the at-bat, and second baseman Josh Adams reaching on a throwing errow. Koumas had his third HBP as Moyer took first, loading the bases. Fontana’s fly out to left field scored Washington, unearned. Koumas forced both Pigott and Tucker to fly out to end the inning.
Randall retired the 6-7-8 batters (Williams, Thomas, Beary) for South Carolina during the top of the fourth.
After Maddox grounded out to second, and Johnson struck out swinging, Zunino extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single through the left side. The streak ties Zunino’s career best from April 12-May 15 2010. Unfortunately, Florida couldn’t capitalize with the runner on: Washington would strike out swinging to end the fourth inning.
Again, the South Carolina batters would go three up-three down in the fifth when Wingo, Matthews, and Mooney all grounded out.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Gators picked up their second hit of the game on an Adams single down the left field line. Koumas would set down the next two Florida batters with a strike out and a fly out, before Pigott would reach on a fielder’s choice to short stop, with a play at second to get Adams out.
Randall’s pattern of three up-three down continued in the sixth with great defense by the infield, holding the score at 1-1.
Tucker had a leadoff walk in the botton of the sixth, and was out at second when Maddox hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Johnson was walked and left on base after Zunino struck out swinging.
Randall continued his domination on the mound retiring his 10th, 11th, and 12th batters (Williams, Thomas and Beary) in the top of the seventh.
South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner replaced Evan Marzili for Beary in left field, and All-American RHP Matt Price on the mound for Koumas in the bottom of the seventh. The pitching change would be costly for the Gamecocks as Washington sent a first pitch home run to left field. Price quickly settled in setting down the next three Gators batters, Adams, Moyer, and Fontana to close the seventh.
In the eigth, Florida head coach countered the defensive moved by South Carolina, sending in Zach Powers to third for Moyer. The move was not necessary as Randall, again, retired the side (Wingo, Matthews, Mooney) to complete a full retirement of the Gamecock’s batting order.
Pigott’s lead off strikeout marked Price’s second of his outing, followed by Tucker who lined out to second base. With two outs, Price walked Maddox and Johnson (who was replaced by Paul Wilson as a pinch runner), then struck out Zunino swinging, leaving two men on base and score 2-1 Gators.
Randall pitched the top of the ninth the same way he had his previous five, retiring the side (Bradley Jr, Walker, and Morales) to finish his complete game.
Florida will look for a two game advantage to end the series against South Carolina Sunday at 1:00 ET. Freshman right handed pitcher Karsten Whitson (3-0, 2.52) will get the start for the Gators. In Whitson’s last outing against LSU, he went 4.1 innings giving up six hits, four walks, and three runs (two earned). South Carolina will start Southpaw Bryan Harper (0.0, 3.52 ERA) on the mound.