South Carolina baseball holds off Florida to win another SEC series

After dropping two straight Southeastern Conference series, the South Carolina baseball team has its mojo back.

The Gamecocks built a big lead Saturday and held off Florida, 9-8, to take the first two of the three-game series. It’s USC’s fourth straight win overall and first SEC series win since sweeping Vanderbilt on March 23-24.

South Carolina (25-10, 8-6 SEC) began the day a game back of Vanderbilt for third place in the SEC East.

The Gamecocks defeated the Gators, 10-3, on Friday and used a pair of three-run innings to take control of Saturday’s matchup. USC scored three in the top of the second to lead 5-2 and added three more in the seventh to go ahead 9-3.

The Gators rallied with five runs in the eighth and had the tying run at first with one out, but relief pitcher Connor McCreery retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.

The Gators had runners on first and second with one out in the ninth, but Tyler Pitzer worked his way out of the jam to pick up the save.

Ethan Petry and Dalton Reeves each had two-run homers for the Gamecocks, who have hit five home runs in the first two games of the series.

Will Tippett added a pair of doubles and Cole Messina added two hits. Messina returned to the lineup Friday after suffering a concussion against Texas A&M on April 5.

Head coach Mark Kingston moved Messina, the team’s starting catcher, to the leadoff spot before Friday’s game. In two games, batting leadoff, the former Summerville High standout is 5-for-8 with three RBIs and four runs scored.

The Gamecocks and Gators will wrap up the series on Sunday at noon (SEC Network).