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Arkansas bounces back to even series

05/05/2012
Chad Crunk, Athletic Media Relations
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FAYETTEVILLE – Matt Reynolds had three hits with two RBI, while Jacob Morris had two hits and two RBI to lead No. 18 Arkansas to a 7-6 series-evening win on Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium.

The Razorbacks improve to 34-14 overall and 12-11 in Southeastern Conference play, while the Gamecocks fall to 35-12 and 15-8 in league play. The loss by South Carolina snapped a 12-game winning streak in conference play.

The Razorback offense generated 17 hits in the victory, with six starters recording two or more hits. Reynolds tied for the team lead with three hits and two RBI, including a clutch single in the bottom of the eighth inning to drive in an insurance run. With his three hits in the game, Reynolds extended his streak of reaching base to 31 straight games. Tim Carver also added three hits with a RBI and a run scored, while Derrick Bleeker had three hits and a run scored. Morris had a pair of RBI with two runs scored, while Bo Bigham and Matt Vinson also had two hits each.

Christian Walker had three hits for the Gamecocks, including hitting his ninth homer of the season. Walker finished the game with two RBI and a run scored. Chase Vergason also homered, his first of the season, while Kyle Martin and Evan Marzilli each had a RBI.

Arkansas reliever Tyler Wright (1-0) earned his first win of the season. Wright threw 1.2 hitless innings, striking out a pair. Barrett Astin earned his ninth save of the season after giving up a run on two hits and striking out one in the ninth inning.

Colby Suggs was effective out of the Arkansas bullpen, throwing a scoreless inning and allowing one hit with a strikeout.

South Carolina starter Jordan Montgomery (4-1) took the loss. Montgomery surrendered five runs on nine hits and struck out two in 5.1 innings.

Arkansas starter Randall Fant received a no decision. Fant pitched 2.1 innings and allowed a run on no hits and struck out two.

After a quiet first two innings, South Carolina scratched across the game’s first run in the top of the third. Tanner English walked and then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Adam Matthews. A walk to Vergason and a hit by pitch to Joey Pankake loaded the bases. Marzilli then drew a walk to bring home a run and put the Gamecocks in front.

The Razorbacks quickly answered with two runs in the home half of the third. Vinson doubled down the left field line to begin the inning. John Clay Reeves then hit a grounder to the shortstop, who attempted to throw Vinson out at third, but his thrown was late, putting runners at the corners. Morris then laid down a bunt single to score Vinson and tie the game. A sacrifice bunt by Carver put runners at second and third with one out. Brian Anderson then hit a grounder to short. The shortstop’s throw to first was dropped by Walker at first with Reeves scoring on the play.

South Carolina tied the game at two in the top of the fourth on a leadoff homer into the left field bullpen by Walker.

Arkansas again regained the lead with a run of its own in the bottom of the fourth. With one out and Bigham at first base, Bleeker lined a single to center field to put runners at first and second. Vinson’s second double of the day, this one to the right-center field gap, scored Bigham to make the score 3-2.

The Gamecocks put together a two-run rally in the top of the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. Vergason began the inning with a homer just over the right field wall to tie the game. Pankake then singled to center and advanced to second on a ground out to first by Marzilli. After a strikeout of Grayson Greiner for the second out, Walker bounced a single to center, scoring Pankake with the go-ahead run.

The Razorbacks tied the game at four with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Carver led off the inning with a single to left and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Anderson. Ficociello grounded out to short to move Carver to third. Reynolds reached on an infield single to third, scoring Carver with the tying run.

Arkansas grabbed a 6-4 lead with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Bleeker singled to begin the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Vinson. A hit to right-center field by Jake Wise put runners at the corners. Morris then lined a single to left, scoring Bleeker and advancing Wise to second. Carver followed with a single of his own to left field, scoring Wise.

South Carolina cut the lead back to one in the top of the eighth. TJ Costen started the inning with a walk. After a strikeout of Tanner English, Michael Roth hit a pinch hit single to center to put runners at first and second. A wild pitch put runners at second and third with one out. Pinch hitter Brison Celek brought home a run with a groundout to second.

The Razorbacks pushed across a big insurance run in the bottom half of the eighth. With one out, Carver singled into right, but was later thrown out trying to steal second. Anderson quickly reached base with a double inside the third base bag and down the left field line. A wild pitch advanced Anderson to third and Ficociello was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners. Reynolds extended Arkansas’ lead to two with a single to center field to score Carver.

The insurance run turned out to be important as South Carolina scored once in the top of the ninth. With one out, Walker singled to left field. Pinch runner Joel Seddon advanced to second on a wild pitch with two outs and a base hit to right field by pinch hitter Kyle Martin brought home Seddon to cut the lead to one. Astin was able to finish off the save as he struck out English to end the game.

Arkansas and South Carolina play the rubber game of the weekend series on Sunday with first pitch set for 1:05 p.m. The Razorbacks will start junior right hander DJ Baxendale (6-2, 3.47), while the Gamecocks have not announced a starter for the series finale.

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