From staff reports/Photo by Jenny Dilworth
On the field where he hurt his arm two years ago, Wil Crowe was at his best Friday night, leading South Carolina to a big 4-2 win over SEC rival Florida.
Crowe allowed just one run on six hits through seven inning and Carlos Cortes led the offense with a two-run home run as South Carolina evened the key series at one game apiece. The rubber game is Saturday at noon.
South Carolina improved to 24-14 and 9-8 in the SEC. Florida fell to 26-13 and 9-8.
Crowe left a game at Florida's McKethan Stadium two years ago with an arm injury and had to have Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss last season. He was on his game Friday night, compiling three strikeouts with no walks to improve to 4-3 on the season.
“Wil was awesome," Holbrook said. "He got hurt here a couple of years ago and that was a very difficult weekend for our team and our program and for Wil. It was good to see him pitch one of his best games at the site where he got injured. It was a meaningful game and it will mean something for him for a long time.”
Cortes hit his fifth home run in the first inning to stake South Carolina to a 2-0 lead. All five of his home runs have come in SEC play.
After Florida scored a run in the bottom of the second, South Carolina extended the lead to 3-1 in the sixth on Jacob Olson's RBI double. The Gamecocks added another run in the seventh on LT Tolbert's RBI groundout.
Closer Tyler Johnson sealed the victory with a two-inning save. Johnson relieved Crowe in the eighth and immediately ran into trouble. Florida loaded the bases with no outs but Johnson got out of the jam with a popup, a strikeout and a flyout. Florida scored a run in the ninth and had runners on second and third with no outs, but Johnson again pitched out it, getting a popup, a strikeout and a groundout to end the game.
South Carolina outhit Florida 9-8, with Cortes and Olson leading the Gamecocks with two hits each.
"A big win for our team, for more ways than one," Holbrook said. "I told them after the game some wins should count more than one and I felt like this one was a little more than just one win for a number of reasons.
"It was good to see some guys battle against a great pitching staff and get some nice hits. We did some nice things. We got a few big hits. We scored enough. If we can score four or five with our pitching staff we have a great chance to win."
Saturday's game will be televised on ESPN2.