Halter leaves South Carolina on extras

HOOVER, Alabama – Florida opened the 2022 SEC Tournament with a 2-1 win over South Carolina in a 10-inning affair at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium on Tuesday night.

third baseman Colby Halter pulled off the heroics, delivering the game-winning sacrifice at center with a late-10th out to score Ty Evans. The win was powered by a career-high 8 1/3 innings of one-run slugging per starter Brandon Sproatwho took a no-hitter in the seventh.

The Gators (36-20, 15-15 SEC) and Gamecocks (27-28, 13-17 SEC) traded zeros in the first three innings as Sproat and South Carolina starter Will Sanders, cleared their opposing offenses. Sproat again held South Carolina scoreless in the fourth, while Florida broke through with a run in the bottom half. After a two-out double by Josh Rivera, Jac Caglianone brought a run with a field single, with Rivera scoring on a pitching error by shortstop Michael Braswell.

Sproat got back to work in the fifth, navigating around a two-out walk to hold South Carolina’s offense in check. He continued to mow down the Gamecocks, taking a no-hitter in the seventh inning before losing it on a single with one out by Josiah Sightler.

Despite losing the no-hitter bid, Sproat kept South Carolina scoreless until the ninth inning. He was lifted after giving up one-out singles, prompting the Gators to bring in the right-hander Ryan Slater. From there, the Gamecocks pushed a run to tie the game on an outfielder Andrew Eyster RBI pick at second base that brought Braylen Wimmer home.

Florida went down the order to ninth, as the game was sent to extra innings. Slater held the score to one point apiece in the top half, opening the door for a possible Florida start.

In the bottom of the tenth, Evans doubled the left field line with an out in frame. Kendrick Calilao then chose the middle, advancing to second on a throwing error while Evans moved to third. After fouling on three pitches, Halter delivered a sacrificial fly to center field, driving Evans home to give the Gators a memorable 2-1 victory.

Slater (5-3) picked up the win, pitching 1 2/3 innings of no-hitter relief with one strikeout. South Carolina reliever Cade Austin dropped to 5-2, allowing an earned run on two hits with four strikeouts.

Sproat received the no decision despite shooting a career-high 8 1/3 innings of a run, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out seven. .

Wyatt Langford (2-for-4) was the only Gator to collect multiple hits.

NOTABLES

  • Sproat pitched a career-high 8 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out seven.
    • Sproat is the first Gator to pitch eight full innings this season.
    • Sproat has gone over 5 1/3 innings in nine straight starts.
    • He’s pitched more than five innings in 12 of 15 starts this year while allowing three or fewer earned runs in 11 of those outings.

  • It’s Florida’s second win in the last five games.
    • Sterling Thompson left Florida State No. 20 with a two-out home run in the ninth on May 17.

  • Florida is now 51-51 against South Carolina.
    • Gators are 29-19 against Gamecocks under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan including 17-5 at home.
    • Florida has won 16 of the last 24 meetings.

  • The Gators improve to 72-66 all-time in the SEC tournament.
  • Florida has won 11 of its last 13 games and 13 of its last 16.
  • Thompson saw his 25-game on-base streak come to an end.
  • Langford extended his on-base streak to 18 games with his multi-hit effort.

FROM HEAD COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN
On Sproat’s performance and tonight’s pitching duel…

“Well, it was a good old-fashioned pitching duel. It’s too bad someone had to lose that game because I thought both starters were just outstanding. I thought Brandon is the best he’s pitched here. I think that’s a career high for innings pitched. I spoke to Jeff Cardozo, our radio guy, after the game, and to find out where Brandon started his freshman year up to where he is now is just awesome that’s why you get into this profession, to hopefully help guys get better and see the progress they’ve made but he sure was special this evening.

On the resilience of the team…

“I mean, any successful team at the end of the year is going to go through periods where they struggle, and that adversity is definitely going to help any team move forward. I go back to 17, we opened the SEC game against Auburn when we won the national championship and we were swept down the road to open the SEC game Those scars, so to speak, they help you at this time of year, and I hope we learned our lesson and got better. And like I said, we had a lot of moving parts. We had to redo our entire weekend rotation, not just one guy, not just two , but we had to redo our whole weekend rotation I’m very, very young in the bullpen We made big decisions moving Sterlin to second and putting Ty in right field and moving Colby in third place.

On what the bullpen is doing today moving forward…

“I mean, definitely when you play in the playoff on Tuesday, obviously it’s an extra game, and then you’re probably playing somebody’s No. 1 when you start the tournament on Wednesday. But our bullpen is intact. We’ve expanded the rosters to 30 from 27 for this tournament, so we’ve added three more arms to that mix. But yeah, that’s big. And Ryan [Slater] It was really good tonight.”

NEXT
Florida advances to face Texas A&M tomorrow afternoon around 5:30 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.

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