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Gators take Game 1 at South Carolina; one win away from SEC Pennant

The Gators did something no other team has done this season and are now 27 outs away from the SEC Pennant.

Thursday night, Florida (39-12, 21-7) defeated South Carolina and pitcher Blake Cooper, 3-2. The win puts UF one game ahead of the Gamecocks (42-12, 20-8) with two games to play and was Cooper's (10-1) first loss of the season.

The Gators did the one thing you need to do in order to beat dominant pitchers; have the bottom of the lineup hit. Two of the Gator RBIs came from the bottom, including Tyler Thompson's homer in the 3rd inning to open the scoring and a two-run inning. Josh Adams got the eventual winning RBI, when his ground out scored Matt den Dekker. Preston Tucker got the other RBI. UF had nine hits, and only three in the last five innings.

Florida pitcher Alex Panteliodis couldn't get out of the 4th inning, as the Cocks had seven hits and forced two walks in Panteliodis' 3.1 innings. South Carolina also had long at-bats, fouling off some of the sophomore's best pitches. Relievers Jeff Barfield and Steven Rodriguez came in and shut the door, with Kevin Chapman getting the six-out save (9). Barfield moved to 4-0 this season. Just as SC shut down UF's bats, the Gator bullpen allowed only two hits, a walk and a run in 5.2 innings.

The Gators did very well in a hostile environment Thursday, which will serve them well Friday with the SEC Pennant on the line. Freshman Hudson Randall (6-3, 2.96) gets the ball Friday night against South Carolina's Sam Dyson (5-4, 3.79). If UF wins one of the next two games, they win the SEC and get the top seed in the SEC Tournament next week in Hoover, Ala.