HOOVER, Ala. – Jess Todd struck out the first nine South Carolina Gamecocks he faced on Thursday evening on his way to a school-record and an SEC-Tournament record 17 strikeouts in a 6-0 Arkansas win over No. 9 South Carolina at Regions Park.
“This was the same game we played yesterday,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “We had tremendous starting pitching. We had a couple of big hits and we felt good. Jess was rolling through another great game, probably the sixth or seventh in a row. I’m proud of our team for coming out and playing hard.”
Todd pitched eight innings, allowing just two singles to USC second baseman Travis Jones with one walk on 119 pitches. He improved to 9-2 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.49. Todd is 5-0 over his last six starts with a 0.91 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 49.2 innings.
“Today was the first day all year I had command of all three of my pitches,” Todd said. “I got ahead of the count and it really helped me out deep in the game.”
The No. 15 Razorbacks improve to 40-18 on the season and have won their first two games at the SEC Tournament for just the second time in 14th appearances. It is the first back-to-back shutouts by the Hogs since 1989 when they blanked Western Michigan 15-0 on March 4 and Iowa State 1-0 on March 10.
The Hogs have Friday off before facing the winner of the South Carolina/Florida game at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Casey Coon and Logan Forsythe paced the Arkansas offense that pounded out 10 hits on the night. Forsythe was 3 for3 with a home run and four RBI, while Coon was 3 for 3 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Arik Hempy took the loss to fall to 5-3 on the season. He pitched five innings and allowed five runs – four earned – on eight hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Wynn Pelzer allowed the Gamecocks last run in one inning of work in the sixth.
The Razorbacks jumped on top for the second straight day with a two-run first inning as Forsythe and Danny Hamblin both delivered two-out RBI singles.
Forsythe hammered his eighth home run of the season in the third inning to extend the lead to 5-0. The three-run shot plated Casey Coon and Brian Walker, who opened the inning with back-to-back base hits.
Coon lashed his third single of the game through the right side of the infield to give the Hogs a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. It was his 68th RBI of the season, tying him with Hamblin’s 2006 campaign for the 10th-most in a single season in school history.
Arkansas Postgame Notes
· Jess Todd fanned a school-record 17 batters in eight innings. He broke the previous record of 16 by David Walling vs. Eastern Illinois on Feb. 20, 1998, and Warren Hemm vs. SMU on March 26, 1976.
· The 17 strikeouts were also an SEC Tournament record, breaking Florida’s Rob Bonanno old record of 15 against Georgia in 1994.
· Todd struck out the first nine batters of the game – all swinging – which is believed to be a school record.
· The back-to-back 6-0 shutouts of Alabama and South Carolina mark the first since 1989 when the Hogs blanked Western Michigan 15-0 on March 3 and Iowa State 1-0 on March 10.
· It is just the second time in 14 SEC Tournament appearances that the Razorbacks have won the first two games. The 1998 team won the first three games before losing to Auburn in the title game.
· Todd’s 124 strikeouts this season rank as the fourth-best single-season total in school history. Nick Schmidt’s 107 rank sixth.
· Dave Van Horn’s Hogs are now 4-1 against top-10 competition this season.
· Arkansas’ 516 strikeouts as a team this season are the second-most in school history. UA’s 9.00 strikeouts per nine innings is currently the best of all time, ahead of the 8.49 per in 1995.
· Arkansas is now 16-23 all time in the SEC Tournament.
· The Hogs are 35-9 this season when they score first.
· The Razorbacks are 8 for 17 (.471) with runners in scoring position during the first two games of the SEC Tournament. UA is also 9 for 24 (.375) with two outs, including eight two-out RBI.
· The Arkansas pitching staff boasts a .086 opponent batting average (5 for 58) in the first two games of the SEC Tournament.
· Hamblin is now hitting .327 over the last 41 games with 20 home runs, 12 doubles, 48 RBI, a .788 slugging percentage and a .398 on-base percentage with 43 runs scored. He began the year hitting .119 (5 for 42).
· Todd is 5-0 over his last six starts with a 0.91 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 49.2 innings. He has 74 strikeouts in 54.2 innings since returning to the Hogs’ rotation against Florida on April 15.
Download: AR58 – 5.24.07 (SEC02).pdf