Florida loses 7-3 to Gamecocks in its CWS opener

Associated Press Modified: June 17, 2012 at 1:16 am •  Published: June 17, 2012

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Florida couldn't overcome one bad inning on Saturday night, and now the top-seeded Gators find themselves fighting for survival at the College World Series.

Erik Payne's bases-loaded triple gave two-time defending champion South Carolina the lead in a five-run fifth inning, and the Gamecocks went on to win 7-3.

South Carolina (46-17) extended its record NCAA-tournament win streak to 22 games by beating its SEC rival and 2011 national runner-up for only the second time in five tries this season.

"There's a reason why they have such a winning streak in the postseason," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "They had some momentum there in the fifth, and it felt like it just got passed down from guy to guy. Obviously we weren't able to stop it there in the fifth, and that was probably the difference in the ball game."

Michael Roth (8-1) turned in another strong CWS start in his eighth appearance in three years in Omaha. He left with one out in the seventh after Florida's first two batters reached in a two-run game. Tyler Webb got the Gamecocks out of trouble, and Matt Price pitched the last two innings — pitching around two singles in the ninth — for his 12th save of the season and SEC-record 42nd of his career.

Payne's triple made a loser of Brian Johnson (8-5).

The Gators will try to stay alive in an elimination game Monday against Kent State.

"Obviously you have to have pitching in this tournament to win ball games, and I think that's one thing our team has," right fielder Preston Tucker said. "It's going to be tough but it's been done before. If anyone can do it we can. We've got a great bullpen. We've got guys we trust. And I think that we got a good shot if we go out there and pitch the way we know we can."

After batting just .219 in losing three of their first four against the Gators this season, the Gamecocks had 12 hits against six pitchers.

The Gamecocks were 0 for their first 9 with runners in scoring position Saturday and they stranded seven through four innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the first.

Evan Marzilli hit his second double of the game leading off the fifth, and Johnson walked Adam Matthews to load the bases with none out.

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