Hoover, Ala. – A ninth-inning rally fell short Saturday afternoon as the South Carolina Gamecocks held on for a 3-2 win over Arkansas to oust the Razorbacks from the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
Arkansas fell to 39-21 overall, while South Carolina improved to 45-15 and will take on Vanderbilt in the tournament championship game Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.
Justin White (2-3) took the loss after going a career-best five innings and allowing three runs, two earned, on three hits with a career high five strikeouts.
Billy Buckner (6-2) earned the win after throwing six shutout innings allowing only six hits with five strikeouts and three walks.
The Razorbacks out hit South Carolina 10-4 on the day, but stranded 12 base runners.
The Gamecocks put the first run on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Steven Tolleson reached on a fielding error and then moved to second on Bryan Triplett’s sac bunt.
With two outs, Brendan Winn brought Tolleson home with a single to right that gave the Gamecocks a 1-0 lead.
Despite out hitting the Gamecocks in the early going, the Razorbacks were unable to turn those hits into runs. Arkansas had five hits and benefited from two walks, but stranded six base runners through five innings of play.
After giving up a run in the first, White was strong and steady for the Razorbacks. After giving up a hit in the first inning, White retired 12 hitters in a row before issuing a two-out walk to Ryan Mahoney in the bottom of the fifth inning.
White also surpassed his season best in strikeouts as he fanned five batters in five innings against the Gamecocks.
The Razorbacks again put runners on against Buckner, this time with a one-out walk to Haas Pratt and single by Danny Hamblin in the top of the sixth.
A fielder’s choice ground by Brady Toops forced Hamblin out at second and moved Pratt to third. On a 3-1 pitch, Devin Day lined out hard to Buckner to end the inning and leave the Razorbacks with eight runners left on base through six innings of play.
South Carolina put two on with no outs in the bottom of the sixth. Tolleson walked and was followed by a bunt single by Bryan Triplett.
Landon Powell made it a 2-0 game with a single to center that scored Tolleson from second and moved Triplett to third, still with no outs.
Powell’s RBI single chased White from the game. Boyd Goodner replaced White on the mound. Brendan Winn greeted Goodwin with a single to center that scored Triplett and upped the Gamecocks’ lead to 3-0.
With one out in the top of the seventh, Dugger doubled left center to give the Hogs a runner in scoring position. Dugger was forced out at third on a ground ball by Rowlett for the second out.
Brett Hagedorn ended the inning when he into a fielder’s choice that forced Rowlett out at second base.
After going quietly in the eighth, the Razorbacks mounted a rally in the top of the ninth. Toops walked to open the inning and moved to second on a single by pinch-hitter Bubbs Merrill.
Scott Bridges loaded the bases with an infield single to second base. Dugger gave the Hogs their first run of the day with a single to center that scored Toops and made it a 3-1 game.
After Rowlett struck out, Hagedorn hit a sac fly to right that scored Merrill and cut the deficit to one at 3-2. On a 1-0 pitch, Scott Hode ground out to third to end the game.
The Razorbacks will now await a possible NCAA Regional bid. NCAA host schools will be announced Sunday, May 30, at 2:10 p.m. live on ESPN.
The 64-team field will be announced Monday, May 31, at 2:30 p.m. live on ESPN2.