FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Jacob House hit a 1-0 pitch into the visiting bleachers for a walk-off grand slam home run to lift the Arkansas baseball team to a 12-11 victory over the 13th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks at Baum Stadium on Friday night.
The critical Southeastern Conference win for Arkansas (29-20, 11-13 SEC) keeps Arkansas within a half game of qualifying for the Southeastern Conference Tournament. South Carolina (34-16, 13-12 SEC) suffers an agonizing loss but still remains in the SEC Tournament picture.
“That was big for us,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “We really needed that one and the guys kept chipping away and chipping away. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Chipping away at a 9-3 deficit, the Razorbacks made it an 11-8 game heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. Andy Wilkins, who had four hits in the game despite missing more than a month to an injury, led off the inning with a single through the right side. He would advance to second on a Brett Eibner walk putting runners at first and second with no outs. A strike out and fly out to left later and the Razorbacks were down to their last out with the top of the order coming to the plate. Chase Leavitt would keep the inning going by hitting a single into the hole between first and second base and beat out the throw on a close play.
With the bases loaded, Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn played the percentages and inserted House to pinch hit for Sean Jones who had been 2-5 in the game including his first home run of the season. Facing a right-handed pitcher, House, a left-handed hitter, launched a no doubter over the right-field wall and ended the contest with one pitch. The grand slam walk off is the first in recent memory for the Razorbacks and is the second grand slam of the year for an Arkansas batter.
House’s grand slam may have been the game-winning hit, but Logan Forsythe was the driving force behind the Razorbacks’ victory. Forsythe was perfect at the plate with four hits in four at bats with two home runs, three runs scored and three RBI. He also worked a walk out of the South Carolina pitching. Forsythe’s day extended his RBI game streak to eight games and over that stretch he has accumulated 16 hits, 10 runs, 18 RBI and six home runs.
The day started off well for the Razorbacks as Sean Jones and Forsythe opened the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back home runs to give the Hogs a 2-0 lead. The two teams would trade runs through the opening innings until the fifth when an error on a would-be double play ball led to a five-run inning for the Gamecocks. The instance was the second time in the game that Arkansas failed to turn a double play on what should have been an inning-ending play and the miscues led to seven South Carolina runs.
The Razorbacks were a hitting machine on Friday night as the home squad pounded out 19 hits, the second highest total of the year and most since March 5 when they defeated South Dakota State. Six Razorbacks had multiple hits in the ballgame with Forsythe and Wilkins each knocking out four. Leavitt contributed three hits, all singles, and Jones, Casey Coon and Ben Tschepikow each had two hits each. The remaining Razorback hits came from Ryan Cisterna and the big blast by House.
Sophomore Evan Cox would be credited with his third win of the season and first in SEC play. Cox entered the game in the eighth inning and held the Gamecocks to two scoreless innings of one-hit baseball. He was the fourth Razorback pitcher on the day following in the footsteps of Justin Wells, Shaun Seibert and Kendall Korbal.
The Razorbacks continue their series with South Carolina on Saturday afternoon when the two squads square off at 2:05 p.m. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit www.hogwired.com.