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June 16, 2012

Instant Analysis: Gators drop CWS opener 7-3

Bracket & Game Trackers | Random Thoughts: South Carolina standing in the way

South Carolina still knows how to get it done when it matters, and Florida is still no challenge for the streak.

The Gamecocks have now won 22 consecutive NCAA Tournament games and 12 consecutive College World Series games after defeating the Gators 7-3 on Saturday night.

Back on college baseball's biggest stage, everything seemed to go wrong for Florida, the nation's No. 1 overall seed. The Gators committed three errors and couldn't overcome a mixture of struggles that included situational hitting and basic pitching.

Here's Inside the Gators Instant Analysis of the loss.

IT WAS OVER WHEN: The top of the lineup let the bottom of the lineup down in the seventh inning. After Vickash Ramjit and Josh Tobias singled to open the frame, Nolan Fontana bunted both into scoring position for Preston Tucker, Mike Zunino and Brian Johnson. Sounds great for the Gators, right? Wrong. In their last real chance, the Gators stumbled as only the Omaha Gators can seem to do. Tucker popped up to shallow left, Zunino was intentionally walked and then Johnson lined out to right to end the frame scoreless.

THIS STAT DOESN'T LIE: South Carolina had Florida on the ropes for much of the first four innings but couldn't cash in. The Gamecocks were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position through the opening four frames. Then things changed in the fifth, and South Carolina flipped its fortunes. In a five-run outburst, the Gamecocks went 4 for 4 with runners in scoring position. It would prove enough to handily beat the Gators.

HE STOLE THE SHOW: South Carolina ace Michael Roth didn't have his best stuff, but it didn't matter. Roth gutted out a 6.1-inning performance that was all about damage control. He held Florida to three runs on seven hits despite some control issues and managed the game better than his UF counterpart.

HE DIDN'T: Pretty simple here: Johnson was bad in nearly every way possible. On the mound, he bent before finally breaking in the fifth inning while leaving the ball up in the zone. Overall, he went 0 for 4 at the plate, striking out once and stranding three runners in scoring position. On the mound, he lasted just over four innings and surrendered eight hits and five earned runs. Let the questions begin surrounding UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan's decision to start him instead of typical No. 1 starter Hudson Randall. O'Sullivan has left himself plenty open for criticism.

OH WHAT A PLAY: Gamecocks center fielder Evan Marzilli has to get honorable mention for his spectacular diving catch to rob Daniel Pigott of a double in the eighth. However, it was designated hitter Erik Payne's three-RBI triple in the fifth that opened the game up for good and kicked Florida against a wall it would never bounce off. Seconds after O'Sullivan decided to leave Johnson in the game after he had filled the bases, Payne made both pay.

WHAT'S NEXT: The nation's No. 1 seed is now on the brink of elimination in Omaha. Florida will play Kent State Monday at 5 p.m. in a loser-goes-home matchup. Since 1988, only six teams have lost their opener at the College World Series and gone on to make the championship series.

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