Baseball topples No. 6 South Carolina in upset win

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

COLUMBIA, SC – The University of North Florida Ospreys took down the nation’s 6th-ranked University of South Carolina Gamecocks on Tuesday, winning 8-5.

This marks the Ospreys’ first win against a top-10 team since 2019, when they beat No. 3 Florida. It was another Southeastern Conference squad this time, but the circumstances were a bit different this time around.

Contrary to the 2019 upset, this game came late in the season, with just six contests left on the schedule. There wasn’t much on the line for either team Tuesday in terms of conference outlook, but this presented the perfect opportunity for the Ospreys to strike.

Things didn’t look too promising in the opening moments, as the Gamecocks grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning. They held their ground for another frame, all until UNF knocked down the doors of Founders Park with a thunderous third inning.

Outfielder Cherokee Nichols got the shindig started with a two-run RBI single to give the Ospreys their first lead of the afternoon. UNF followed this up with three more RBI singles, upping their lead to 5-1 after just three innings.

Gabriel Esquivel prior to the game.
UNF first basemen Gabriel Esquivel produced two hits Tuesday, scoring two of the Ospreys’ eight runs. (UNF Athletics)

While a great start, the job was far from finished. Outfielder Carson Hornung began the mini-rally with an RBI single to narrow the deficit to three runs. This gap shrunk to a single run when another South Carolina outfielder, Evan Stone, connected on a two-run home run to left field.

Despite seeing their advantage shrink, UNF weathered the storm. This set up the Ospreys to build their lead back up, which is exactly what they did in the fifth inning. RBI singles were the name of the game Tuesday, which UNF third baseman Matthew Clements further exemplified to push the lead back to two runs.

Clements’s hit advanced UNF designated hitter Dallen Leach to scoring position, which later allowed the redshirt senior to score and increase the Osprey lead to 7-4. South Carolina chipped away with a run in the run in the fifth inning, but UNF canceled this out two frames later with an Austin Brinling RBI triple.

The Gamecocks had plenty of scoring throughout the game, but UNF’s pitchers banded together to stave off scoring. Over the course of Tuesday’s nine innings, South Carolina stranded 16 runners on base.

The UNF pitching staff had fought off plenty of rumblings on the basepath, but neither team had anything for the next downpour. The Carolina skies opened up in the top of the ninth inning, forcing a two-hour delay with less than an inning left to be played.

Now well into the night, conditions finally became suitable and play was resumed. Redshirt senior Will Ohme came on to lock things down for the Ospreys in the bottom of the ninth. The veteran made light work of the Gamecocks, allowing just one single and striking out three to secure the win for UNF.

Though this win will serve as a boost of momentum, the Ospreys still sit one game back from qualifying for the ASUN tournament. One win may sound simple, but they’re neck-and-neck with Kennesaw State, Liberty and Central Arkansas for the eighth and final spot.

UNF has two more series left, one against ASUN-leading Florida Gulf Coast and the Jacksonville Dolphins. Picking up wins in both of these will be crucial if the Ospreys want to keep this newly-acquired momentum rolling into the postseason.


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