Ospreys drop heartbreaker to ranked South Carolina

Riley Platt, Reporter

Featured Image: Justin Nedrow

UNF baseball hit the road with a trip to Columbia to face the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Ospreys gave the 19th-ranked team in the country all they could handle, but ultimately came up short.

Facing big-name teams in 2021 is nothing new for the Ospreys, having defeated a ranked FSU team in their season opener. This trip was for a one-off game, which was delayed from Tuesday’s set date to Wednesday afternoon due to weather. Pulling off a win would be no easy task, but UNF was up to the challenge.

The Ospreys wasted no time in getting started, snagging the lead in the first inning. A sacrifice fly from Cade Westbrook brought in a run, with Aidan Sweatt following this up with an RBI fielder’s choice. An early 2-0 lead was crucial for UNF, but this small lead wouldn’t last long.

Taking the mound to start Wednesday’s showdown for UNF was Dylan Kelley, a junior right hander. He would have a rough start, as two home runs highlighted South Carolina’s bottom of the first inning, giving the Gamecocks a 3-2 lead. They would follow this up in the second inning with a 2 RBI single, increasing the lead to 5-2.

UNF got back to work offensively in the top of the fourth. Things got started with a Ricky Presno RBI single, shrinking the deficit to two runs. Two more singles by Isaiah Byars and Alex Kachler would give the Ospreys a 6-5 lead. Taking advantage of this golden opportunity was key, but this wouldn’t be enough to carry them to a win.

Clutch pitching by Darrin Kilfoyl allowed UNF to cruise through the middle innings with ease, but the Gamecocks would get things together in the bottom of the seventh inning. With two runners in scoring position, Dominick Madonna entered as pitcher for the Ospreys in a chaotic scene, to say the least. Tragedy struck when, with just one more strike needed, an interference call on UNF loaded the bases. The Gamecocks took advantage of this, as a George Callil single brought in two runs.

Now leading 7-6, South Carolina needed just six more outs to secure the win. Two hard-hit balls to the warning track came close to getting UNF back into the game, but they would fall short, giving the Gamecocks the win. 

While a loss is never the desired result, going toe-to-toe with a SEC powerhouse should help motivate the Ospreys to finish the regular season strong. With five games left, UNF looks to build momentum heading into the ASUN tournament. The Ospreys will be in action again this weekend when they host the Stetson Hatters. Follow along with Spinnaker for the latest on UNF baseball.


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