Hogs beat South Carolina; 1 win shy of return to Omaha

By: Matt Jones
Published: Saturday, June 9, 2018
Arkansas pitcher Blaine Knight prepares to throw during an NCAA Tournament game against South Carolina on Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas pitcher Blaine Knight prepares to throw during an NCAA Tournament game against South Carolina on Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Fayetteville.

Arkansas 9, South Carolina 3 - FINAL

Arkansas' big four-run seventh was part of a six-run blitz over the final three innings. The Razorbacks are one win away from the College World Series and will attempt to clinch tomorrow at 2 p.m.

Barrett Loseke pitched three scoreless innings to earn the save. Blaine Knight improved to 12-0 with a six-inning effort.

We'll have much more soon at WholeHogSports.com.

Arkansas 9, South Carolina 3 - Bottom 8th Inning

The Razorbacks have tacked on an insurance run. Luke Bonfield's two-out RBI single scored Heston Kjerstad from second base. Kjerstad reached the at-bat before Bonfield and moved to second on a passed ball.

The Razorbacks are out-hitting the Gamecocks 10-6 now.

Arkansas 8, South Carolina 3 - Middle 8th Inning

Barrett Loseke worked around a walk and an error to strand two runners in the eighth. He struck out LT Tolbert on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.

The error was by Heston Kjerstad, who dropped a fly ball in left field. It was almost just like the one he dropped last Sunday against Dallas Baptist.

Arkansas 8, South Carolina 3 - End 7th Inning

Carson Shaddy scored after a single by Grant Koch took him to third, and a sac fly by Jared Gates. Eric Cole also singled with two outs, but the inning ended when Koch was thrown out at third base.

Barrett Loseke is pitching again in the eighth.

Arkansas 7, South Carolina 3 - Bottom 7th Inning

Carson Shaddy just gave the Razorbacks some breathing room. After South Carolina pitched around Dominic Fletcher to load the bases with one out, Shaddy doubled off the left field wall to score three and put the Razorbacks ahead by four.

It was a puzzling decision given that there was only one out, it loaded the bases and Fletcher is a .294 hitter, compared to Shaddy who is batting .331. Also Shaddy, who was All-SEC, has had several big hits this year.

Remember Shaddy also had the go-ahead home runs each game against South Carolina during the doubleheader here in April.

Baum is going nuts after that hit. There was an extended ovation that had to have lasted for at least a full minute.

Arkansas 4, South Carolina 3 - Middle 7th Inning

Barrett Loseke retired all three batters he faced in the seventh. Matt Cronin is warming up in the bullpen, which makes me wonder if the Razorbacks try to bring him in for a six-out save. The first batter due up for South Carolina in the eighth is Carlos Cortes, who took Loseke deep for the winning two-run home run in the first game these teams played this year.

Loseke nearly walked Danny Blair after falling behind 3-0. But he got two called strikes, then Blair grounded out to Jared Gates at first base to end the inning. Gates made a great sliding stop to his right, then outran Blair to first base. In addition to his bat, he has made some outstanding plays defensively this postseason.

Arkansas 4, South Carolina 3 - End 6th Inning

Jax Biggers is 2-for-3 today after his two-out RBI single scored Carson Shaddy from third base in the sixth. Shaddy reached on a walk and advanced on a fielder's choice and a wild pitch.

Biggers drove a 2-1 pitch from Eddy Demurias in front of the center fielder. He has two of the team's four hits today.

Eric Cole grounded out to end the inning.

Barrett Loseke is coming into the game for the seventh. Blaine Knight's final line: 6 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts. He is in line for the win and cannot be the loser.

Arkansas 3, South Carolina 3 - Middle 6th Inning

Did Blaine Knight just walk off the mound at Baum Stadium for the last time? It seems likely after a long inning in which he allowed a home run and had to work around a two-out single. Hunter Taylor flied out on a 3-2 pitch to strand one.

Knight's pitch count is 96 through six innings and Jake Reindl looks warm in the bullpen.

Arkansas 3, South Carolina 3 - Top 6th Inning

Madison Stokes just took Blaine Knight deep on an 0-2 pitch to lead off the sixth inning. That is Knight's second home run allowed today, both solo shots. He has given up 12 home runs over his past eight starts.

Arkansas 3, South Carolina 2 - End 5th Inning

Arkansas chased Adam Hill with a leadoff walk in the fifth, but the Razorbacks couldn't do anything against his replacement, right-hander Eddy Demurias. Dominic Fletcher struck out to strand two runners.

The final line on Hill: 4-plus innings, 3 runs, 2 hits, 5 walks, 2 hit batters, 3 strikeouts. He is in line for the loss.

Blaine Knight is coming back out for the sixth inning, but the Razorbacks are sending their top arms to the bullpen. I see Jake Reindl, Barrett Loseke and Matt Cronin running there between innings.

Arkansas 3, South Carolina 2 - Middle 5th Inning

Blaine Knight finally got his quick inning and it came at a good time for him. He needed just eight pitches to retire all three South Carolina batters in the fifth. After nine-hole hitter Matt Williams flied out on a 2-2 pitch, leadoff man Danny Blair lined out to second on the first pitch of his at-bat and Carlos Cortes grounded out to first on a 0-1 pitch. First baseman Jared Gates took the hop off his chest, but was able to regain control in time to beat Cortes to the bag.

Knight's pitch count is 71. Adam Hill enters the bottom of the fifth with 80 pitches.

Arkansas 3, South Carolina 2 - End 4th Inning

Arkansas loaded the bases again with two outs when Jared Gates drew a walk on a full-count pitch. The Razorbacks stranded three when Jax Biggers flied out to the warning track in left field. Arkansas has yet to record a hit today with runners in scoring position.

Arkansas 3, South Carolina 2 - Bottom 4th Inning

South Carolina pitcher Adam Hill lost command in the fourth and the Razorbacks have regained the lead. Hill loaded the bases on a single, hit by pitch and a walk with no outs, and tied the game when Dominic Fletcher was hit in the butt by a pitch in the next at-bat. Arkansas took the lead when Carson Shaddy followed with a sacrifice fly to score Heston Kjerstad, who was the first hit by pitch in the inning.

There are runners on the corners now with two outs and Jared Gates batting.

South Carolina 2, Arkansas 1 - Top 4th Inning

LT Tolbert has re-staked the lead for South Carolina with a one-out home run to right field. Tolbert, who bats left-handed, crushed the fastball offering from Blaine Knight for his seventh home run this season and second against Arkansas. He also hit the grand slam against the Hogs at the SEC Tournament.

Knight has given up 11 home runs over the past eight games, including one each of his last eight starts.

Arkansas 1, South Carolina 1 - End 3rd Inning

A walk, a single and a sac fly has tied the game. Jared Gates fell behind 1-2 but worked a walk with one out. He went first to third on Jax Biggers' single to right field in the next at-bat and scored on a sac fly from Eric Cole.

Gates scored before Biggers was tagged out on a lengthy rundown between first and second base to end the inning. Biggers' hit was Arkansas' first today.

South Carolina 1, Arkansas 0 - Middle 3rd Inning

Madison Stokes reached on a one-out throwing error by Arkansas third baseman Casey Martin, but the Razorbacks made a good defensive play the ensuing at-bat. Jonah Bride hit a line drive on a hit-and-run, but second baseman Carson Shaddy shaded a bit to his right and was in perfect condition to make a running catch and tag out Stokes, who had no chance of getting back to first base.

South Carolina 1, Arkansas 0 - End 2nd Inning

Arkansas got its first base runner in the second when Dominic Fletcher drew a five-pitch walk with one out, but he was thrown out trying to steal second base. It was catcher Hunter Taylor's 22nd caught stealing this season.

Carson Shaddy struck out swinging at a 3-2 off-speed pitch to end the inning. Shaddy also swung through a big, loopy slurve to begin the at-bat. He did not look comfortable against Adam Hill's off-speed stuff.

South Carolina 1, Arkansas 0 - Middle 2nd Inning

It took Blaine Knight 27 pitches to retire South Carolina in the second, but he got out of a jam by stranding Gamecocks at first and second. Knight's 41st overall pitch was an inside fastball that leadoff hitter Danny Blair watched for strike three.

South Carolina fouled off seven pitches in the inning and also drew a walk to get Knight's pitch count high.

South Carolina 1, Arkansas 0 - Top 2nd Inning

The Gamecocks have struck first. Hunter Taylor's double to the wall in left-center field scored Justin Row, who reached with a leadoff single over the head of shortstop Jax Biggers. Row was running on Taylor's two-strike swing and scored standing up.

South Carolina already has three hits against Blaine Knight. The Gamecocks hit him well here in April, too.

Arkansas 0, South Carolina 0 - End 1st Inning

Arkansas didn't get any good swings against Adam Hill in its first plate appearance. Hill needed just eight pitches to retire the Razorbacks in order.

Arkansas 0, South Carolina 0 - Middle 1st Inning

Carlos Cortes got a one-out single but Blaine Knight retired the next two batters to work around the hit in the first inning.

The folks at the university are unsure why there is a change in programming plans, but the game is being shown right now on ESPN News.

Pregame

Arkansas and South Carolina are almost underway in Fayetteville. It is a warm, muggy day and there is a stiff wind blowing out to left field.

The stadium is packed. This is the toughest ticket at this facility in a long time.

Arkansas is wearing its home cream jerseys and pants with red hats. South Carolina is in gray tops and pants, and red hats.

The pitching matchup is RHP Blaine Knight (11-0, 2.74 ERA) of Arkansas vs. RHP Adam Hill (7-5, 3.99 ERA). Knight was a third-round pick of the Orioles earlier this week and Hill was a fourth-round pick of the Mets.

The home plate umpire is the veteran Mark Wagers.

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