COLUMBIA, S.C. -- National championships certainly can't be won in March, but the foundations for them certainly can start being assembled.
That's precisely what the South Carolina series was about for Florida this weekend. Not necessarily about getting redemption for losing last year's national title series to the Gamecocks, but more about beating a very solid team on the road and putting yet another building block on top of the structure the Gators hope leads to a national title in June.
In the week leading up to the South Carolina series, the Gators very much downplayed the angle that they were out to get back at the Gamecocks. And though, for a night it was in doubt, as Matt Price blew pitches past UF hitters in relief and the Gamecocks cruised to victory in the series opener, it was evident things were different this go-round in Game 2.
There, Florida two-way player Brian Johnson rose to the occasion. His low-to-mid 90s fastball was well-located and kept the Gamecocks off balance, while he helped himself at the plate and others chipped in for an impressive 8-2 victory.
At that point, the Gators had passed an important test. After losing a tough and emotional series opener to a team that had their number for the last year, the Gators came out with a business-like, yet, gritty approach. And they were successful.
That attitude carried over to Saturday's series finale, which the Gators won 5-4 over the Gamecocks to clinch a series victory.
"It is what it is, I'm just excited to win this series," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "I don't want to take a series like this personal. Last year is last year, this year is this year. We have a long way to go. This was just the second of 10 SEC series."
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