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No. 5 South Carolina Downs Arkansas, 7-4

BY ANDRES FOCIL
No. 5 South Carolina Downs Arkansas, 7-4
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Tripp Kelly and Tim Whittaker each hit home runs to help No. 5 South Carolina to a 7-4 win over Arkansas Saturday before a crowd of 3,864 in the second game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Sarge Frye Field.

Ranked fifth by Baseball Weekly and Collegiate Baseball, South Carolina (15-2, 2-0 SEC) clinched a series victory over the Razorbacks (10-8, 0-2 SEC) and snapped UA’s streak of five-consecutive series victories over USC. The Gamecocks scored 14 unanswered runs to win Friday’s series opener, 16-5.

Arkansas out-hit South Carolina, 11-6, on Saturday but had just one extra-base hit and committed a season-high five errors as the Hogs lost for the fourth time in their last five games sixth time in their last eight contests.

South Carolina starter Gary Bell (5-1) allowed two runs on eight hits, struck out eight and walked two in 7 2/3 innings to earn the victory. In his first SEC appearance since May 7, 1999, Arkansas starter Charlie Isaacson (2-3) gave up five runs on five hits in six innings suffered his first loss in seven career decisions against SEC foes.

For the second day in a row, the defending SEC champion Gamecocks fought back from an early deficit. With Arkansas clinging to a 2-1 lead, Kelly led off the bottom of the fourth inning with his third home run of the season and second in as many games, tying the score at 2-2. Garris Gonce followed with a double and scored on Bryon Jeffcoat’s sacrifice fly to give South Carolina a 3-2 lead it would not relinquish.

The Gamecocks extended their lead to 5-2 in the fifth inning, parlaying two UA errors on Drew Meyer’s bunt single into a pair of runs. With Marcus McBeth on first via a leadoff walk, Arkansas catcher Aaron Graves fielded Meyer’s bunt and overthrew first base to score McBeth. Hog right fielder Michael Conner fielded Graves’ errant toss and overthrew third base, allowing Meyer to score for a three-run USC advantage.

Whittaker stretched the South Carolina lead to 7-2 in the bottom of the seventh with his sixth home run of the season, a two-run blast off UA reliever Jon Murphy.

Arkansas threatened in the top of the ninth, cutting the lead to 7-4 on Jeff Fletcher’s RBI double and Jeff Hoefler’s sacrifice fly before USC reliever Lee Gronkiewicz struck out Brett Hagedorn to end the game.

Kyle Washburn gave the Hogs a 1-0 lead in the top of the first with a one-out single down the left-field line to score Luke Weatherford.

South Carolina tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the second when Garris Gonce scored on Trey Dyson’s double. Arkansas regained the lead in the top of the fourth when Conner led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a failed pick-off attempt and scored on Cody Clark’s groundout.

Conner, Washburn and Weatherford had two hits each for the Razorbacks. Gonce had two hits to pace the Gamecocks.

The series concludes Sunday at 12:30 p.m. CT. Freshman right-hander Scott Roehl (1-0) will get the start for the Razorbacks while USC will send junior right-hander Chris Spigner (3-0) to the mound.



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