Ah, the Cardiac Cocks are back. With their fin-style rally caps on, the Gamecocks found a way to fight back from their biggest deficit of the season and keep their SEC winning streak, now at 12 games, alive.
The Yardcocks rallied from a 6-0 hole to score eight unanswered runs and take down the Razorbacks in extras tonight. It didn’t look good for South Carolina early on, as starting pitcher Michael Roth struggled and Arkansas took a 3-0 lead in the first. By the top of the fourth, it was 6-0 Hogs and things were looking kind of bleak for USC.
Enter the first rally of the evening, which cut the lead from 6-3. After Evan Marzilli laid down a successful bunt to reach first base and Christian Walker walked, LB Dantzler smacked a double that brought Marzilli across the plate. Grayson Greiner and pinch hitter Kyle Martin contributed back to back sac flies to bring in Walker and Dantzler.
The Gamecocks threatened to add more in the fifth, but the Hogs kept them at bay. In the sixth, though, Carolina evened the score. Dantzler singled (Reptar had to be proud of his dad tonight), and then Greiner cranked a homer to left. That brought the Cocks within one and was the first long ball Arky pitcher Ryne Stanek had allowed all season. It was also the sixth time Greiner has gone yard this year. USC then loaded the bases, but could only plate one runner, Tanner English, thanks to a Joey Pankake sac fly.
Roth settled down a bit, while Stanek started to have difficulty of his own. Even so, due to quality pitching on both sides and sharp defensive play, especially by the Gamecocks, neither team would score again in regulation. That brought about free baseball in Fayetteville, and in the top of the 10th, Pankake hit a one-out single, then moved up to second on an Arkansas throwing error. Marzilli then doubled to left-ctner, bringing Pankake home and giving USC the lead.
Greiner added a base hit to bring Marzilli home, much to the dismay of Hogs fans. Marzilli was called safe, then out, then safe again, as both Ray Tanner and U of A coach Dave Van Horn came out to plead their cases. Tanner won out, though, and so did the Gamecocks. Price sent the Hogs batters down 1-2-3 to close out the game.
Greiner, Pankake, Marzilli, Dantzler, and Adam Matthews (who made some solid plays in the outfield) were all 2-for-4 at the plate. Greiner also tied a season high with his four RBI. Matt Reynolds went 3-for-4 to lead Arkansas. The Gamecocks outhit the Razorbacks 13-7, but also left 13 men on base, compared to Arkansas’ four.
Roth, who officially became a USC grad today, had issues with his command, and threw six innings where he allowed all six runs on six hits. He issued four walks and struck out no batters. Per Andy Demetra, this is the first time in all 34 of Roth’s starts that he hasn’t gotten at least two K’s.
Evan Beal came on in relief of Roth as was fantastic, pitching three shut-out innings in which he gave up only one hit. He allowed two walks and struck out one batter. He also earned the win, improving his record to 3-3 on the year. Price pitched a perfect 10th inning and earned his seventh save of the season. Hogs reliever took the loss and falls to 2-4 on the season.
South Carolina is now tied with LSU for first overall in the conference with eight games left to play, including the final series of the regular season, which is between the Tigers and Gamecocks in Columbia.
Carolina is now 35-11 overall and 15-7 in SEC play. Arkansas drops to 33-14 and 11-11. Tomorrow’s game is set for 1 ET and will be televised on ESPN2. Jordan Montgomery will start on the mound for the Cocks and Randall Fant will get the nod for the Razorbacks.