The Florida Gators facing off against the South Carolina Gamecocks this weekend will undoubtedly serve as a vital SEC East division series. With both teams holding steady places atop the SEC, this whole weekend is expected to be a fun one nonetheless. Just take a look into what went down in the series opener:

FINAL SCORE – Florida 5, South Carolina 4

Despite a lead-off walk drawn out by sophomore Dalton Guthrie, Florida was unable to put any runs on the board in the first inning. The Gamecocks, however, came out firing with sophomore Alex Destino blasting a two-run homerun off Florida junior RHP Logan Shore (4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER) with South Carolina sophomore John Jones drawing out a walk earlier in the inning.

Both teams were unable to make any changes to the scoreboard until the fifth inning, when South Carolina freshman Chris Cullen extended the Gamecock’s lead a bit more with a homerun of his own off Shore. The Gamecocks then went on to load the bases and bring slugger Destino to the plate yet again; Florida junior LHP Kirby Snead was shortly called to the mound and went on to collect the third out of the inning without South Carolina being able to cause any more damage.

Being down 3-0 and heading into the sixth, Florida sophomore JJ Schwarz added a bit of excitement to the game for the Gators, cutting down the Gamecock’s lead to 3-2 with a two-run homerun over the left field fences.

After South Carolina sophomore Jonah Bride hitting a double and sophomore Madison Stokes laying down a successful sacrifice bunt to moved Bride to third, Cullen sent a ball down the third baseline, allowing Bride to score. The Gamecocks sat more comfortably with a 4-2 lead.

Heading into the top of the seventh, Florida sophomore Mike Rivera managed to draw out a walk, followed by a freshman Maldonado single. Sophomore Jeremy Vasquez was then due at the plate, pinch hitting for junior Ryan Larson, sending a single to CF and allowing Rivera to score, closing in on a 4-3 score.

After both teams being unable to get bats going in the eighth, the following inning was nothing less than exciting. Florida’s freshman Jonathan India tied things up with a solo shot to left field in the top of the ninth, and Florida freshman Nick Horvath wanted a shot of his own, sending a ball into the left field bleachers, allowing the Gators to take the 5-4 lead.

Florida junior RHP Shaun Anderson came to the mound in the bottom of the ninth to finish things off for the Gators. Even though the Gamecocks were able to find a leadoff single, the Gamecocks’ hope was quickly gone after the Gators easily turned a 6-4-3 double play and when Maldondo was able to snag South Carolina junior Dom Thompson-Williams’ deep fly to the left field warning track.

Game two’s first pitch is scheduled for tonight at 7 PM with quite the match-up on the mound: Florida junior LHP A.J. Puk (2-2, 3.07) off against South Carolina freshman RHP Braden Webb (8-2, 3.28).

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Rockin’ this party eight days a week. Try and keep up. I’m a Yankee by choice and a Red by default, yet I’ve lived in the panhandle of Florida all my life. Makes sense, right? Baseball is weird anyway. If I’m not at the ballpark, I’m probably in line at Chipotle, or getting mistaken as a middle schooler since I’m not even five feet tall. Lil Dicky guaranteed me an interview if I make it as a big time on-air sports personality someday, so that’s a bit of an extra incentive for me while I chase my dreams in sports broadcast. After practically living at ball fields growing up instead of my actual house, look to me for all your softball – and a pretty good amount of your baseball – needs, especially if those needs involve the guys and gals in the only relevant shades of orange and blue. GO GATA.

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