GAINESVILLE, FLA. — Moving Reid Morgan up a day in the starting rotation, the South Carolina Gamecocks were hoping to start this weekend's SEC baseball series against Florida the right way.
Outside of one inning, they did, but it was too much to get over. The Gators put up six runs in the third inning and the Gamecocks couldn't scrape together enough offense after that, falling 9-5 on Thursday night.
South Carolina's now lost all five series openers in SEC play and it's the second straight opener they've allowed nine runs.
It looked like a typical start for Morgan early, as he motored through two no-hit innings and didn't allow a ball to leave the infield.
That's when trouble hit and Morgan gave up six runs on six hits as the Gators sent 10 runners to the plate in the third inning.
After issuing two leadoff walks, Morgan (3-2, 3.47 ERA) recorded the first out of the inning on a strikeout, before giving up five straight hits, including a three-run blast from Brady McConnell.
After the Gamecocks (20-14, 3-10 SEC) got a run back in the fifth on a George Callil sacrifice fly, the Gators immediately got the run back the same inning on a Cory Acton' RBI-double.
Morgan finished his outing after 5 innings, giving up a season-high 7 runs, all earned, on nine hits. He walked a season-high 3 batters. It was the first time in 9 starts Morgan issued more walks than strikeouts.
It's his shortest outing since going just four innings against Georgia.
The Gamecocks had their offensive opportunities early, putting two on with no outs in the second after back-to-back leadoff singles, and then loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth, but got nothing out of either of those situations.
Things got interesting in the seventh for the Gamecocks, after a leadoff walk and Noah Campbell' double. The Gamecocks got two runs on back-to-back wild pitches and put the tying run in the on-deck circle with two outs, before Luke Berryhill lined out to end the threat.
Florida got two more in the eighth inning as insurance, with Daniel Lloyd loading the bases with no outs and Cole Ganopulos allowing two of those runners to score on a wild pitch and sacrifice fly.
Ian Jenkins tried to start a rally in the ninth with a pinch-hit RBI-double and it almost worked. T.J. Hopkins hit what looked like a 3-run homer that turned into just a sacrifice fly before Berryhill struck out to end the game.
UP NEXT: South Carolina tries to even the series and avoid losing five straight SEC series with game two scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday on the SEC Network Plus. Cam Tringali (1-0, 3.03 ERA) is scheduled to start.