South Carolina tops Arkansas to force winner-take-all game Monday

By: Matt Jones
Published: Sunday, June 10, 2018
South Carolina's second baseman Justin Row tries to put the tag on Arkansas baserunner Carson Shaddy as he steals second base in the second inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament super regional baseball game in Fayetteville, Ark., Sunday, June 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
South Carolina's second baseman Justin Row tries to put the tag on Arkansas baserunner Carson Shaddy as he steals second base in the second inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament super regional baseball game in Fayetteville, Ark., Sunday, June 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

South Carolina 8, Arkansas 5 - Final

Arkansas went down with only a whimper in the ninth. Casey Martin struck out swinging at a high 3-2 fastball and Heston Kjerstad hit a soft liner to the second baseman for two quick outs.

Luke Bonfield singled but Dominic Fletcher flied out to deep left field to end the game.

Arkansas and South Carolina will play a winner-take-all Game 3 on Monday at 6 p.m.

Both teams finished with 10 hits, but the ability to hit with runners in scoring position was the difference, in particular LT Tolbert's big grand slam to break things open in the fifth inning. Arkansas was 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

The loss snapped a 14-game home win streak for Arkansas. South Carolina was the last team to win here, 3-2 on April 12. The Razorbacks are 33-4 at Baum Stadium this season.

We'll have more from this game soon at WholeHogSports.com.

South Carolina 8, Arkansas 5 - End 8th Inning

Here we go: Arkansas' 2, 3 and 4 hitters are coming to the plate with the Razorbacks trailing by three runs. Sawyer Bridges will pitch for South Carolina.

Cody Scroggins gave up a leadoff walk to Jonah Bride in the bottom of the eighth but retired the next three batters, the final two on foul outs to Casey Martin at third base. Martin will lead off the ninth.

South Carolina 8, Arkansas 5 - Middle 8th Inning

The Razorbacks have chipped away at the lead some, but it is going to take a big ninth for Arkansas to stay out of a Game 3. Grant Koch singled with one out, advanced to third on a fielder's choice and an error, and scored on Jax Biggers' sacrifice fly.

Jared Gates was stranded at second base when Eric Cole struck out to end the inning. Arkansas is 0-for-9 today with runners in scoring position, reminiscent of the game it lost here against South Carolina in April.

South Carolina 8, Arkansas 4 - End 7th Inning

Cody Scroggins worked around two base runners in the seventh. Arkansas will send Carson Shaddy, Grant Koch and Jared Gates to the plate against right-handed reliever Sawyer Bridges in the eighth.

South Carolina 8, Arkansas 4 - Middle 7th Inning

Heston Kjerstad's home run to center field came one pitch after he fouled one hard off his lead foot. He limped around the bases.

That was Kjerstad's 14th home run this season, which broke the freshman record at Arkansas. Zack Cox (2009) and Casey Martin this season had shared it with Kjerstad prior to that at-bat.

It was also Arkansas' 92nd home run this year, which tied the single-season school record set in 2010.

The attendance today is 11,481, which is the fifth-largest for a game at Baum Stadium. All of the five largest have been for super regional games this year and in 2015 vs. Missouri State.

South Carolina 8, Arkansas 3 - End 6th Inning

Cody Scroggins struck out Hunter Taylor looking at strike three to end a long bottom of the sixth inning. It stranded three Gamecocks.

The crowd let loose a mocking cheer for the home plate umpire, Mike Morris, when he rung up the batter.

South Carolina 8, Arkansas 3 - Bottom 6th Inning

The Gamecocks have got a run back during a long half-inning that should have been over a long time ago. Mike Morris, the home plate umpire, missed what should have been strike three in an at-bat against Madison Stokes. The inning began to unravel from there. The next three Gamecocks reached and Stokes scored on a wild pitch by Evan Lee.

During a pitching change Dave Van Horn gave Morris an earful and was warned, and probably came close to being ejected. Bryce Bonnin, the pitcher who was squeezed, stared down Morris as he walked off the field.

Now the Gamecocks have the bases loaded with two outs. Cody Scroggins is the new Arkansas pitcher.

South Carolina 7, Arkansas 3 - Middle 6th Inning

Arkansas put runners on the corners after consecutive two-out hits, but Eric Cole's line drive off the pitcher, Sawyer Bridges, bounced right to shortstop LT Tolbert and he threw out Cole to end the inning.

The Razorbacks' four base runners in the inning came against Graham Lawson, who was pulled after recording two outs. Bridges came into the game to face Cole.

Bryce Bonnin will pitch again for Arkansas in the bottom of the sixth.

South Carolina 7, Arkansas 3 - Top 6th Inning

After Bryce Bonnin retired both batters he faced in the fifth, then Carson Shaddy belted a two-run home run to left field with one out in the sixth to give Arkansas some life. Dominic Fletcher, who walked, also scored.

The homer came off South Carolina reliever Graham Lawson. This game is in the hands of the bullpen now for both teams.

South Carolina 7, Arkansas 1 - Bottom 5th Inning

The Razorbacks are in trouble after Jake Reindl allowed a one-out grand slam by LT Tolbert and a solo homer by Hunter Taylor in back-to-back at-bats to put the Gamecocks ahead by six runs. That is the second grand slam by Tolbert against Arkansas this season; he also hit one against the Razorbacks in the SEC Tournament.

Arkansas is running several of its younger pitchers to the bullpen. If this one gets away, there is no need to keep the top pitchers on the mound.

South Carolina 2, Arkansas 1 - Middle 5th Inning

The Razorbacks missed on possibly their best chance to get to Cody Morris after Eric Cole singled on a 3-2 pitch and Casey Martin was hit by a pitch with two outs. Heston Kjerstad flied out to deep center field to end the inning and strand two more.

Morris was struggling and his pitch count was nearing 90. His arm slot had dropped quite a bit that inning and South Carolina had a reliever warming up. It appeared there might be a pitching change before Kjerstad came to the plate, but Morris remained in the game after a mound visit.

Arkansas is 0-for-7 today with runners in scoring position. The Razorbacks have had a runner in scoring position each inning, but the only run to this point came on the error.

South Carolina 2, Arkansas 1 - End 4th Inning

Jacob Olson had a leadoff single, but it was erased by a double play that was started by third baseman Casey Martin, and leadoff hitter Noah Campbell flied out to deep left field to end the fourth. Both teams have had a base runner every inning. Martin has made a pair of really good defensive plays today.

South Carolina 2, Arkansas 1 - Middle 4th Inning

Another close play went South Carolina's way in the fourth and at some point you have to wonder whether those will accumulate to force a third game in the super regional.

Grant Koch was thrown out at first on a bang-bang play. It wouldn't have scored Carson Shaddy from second, but would have allowed him to advance to third with two outs. Shaddy reached on a walk and stole second base.

Arkansas has had a base runner each inning and has stranded three. South Carolina has stranded five.

South Carolina 2, Arkansas 1 - End 3rd Inning

Justin Row took Kacey Murphy deep into the seats over the left field bullpen to give South Carolina the lead again. It was Row's second RBI today and his seventh home run this season.

Otherwise that was a quick inning for Murphy, who needed it because of a high pitch count through two innings. Kole Ramage went to the bullpen for a moment, but has since returned to the dugout for Arkansas.

Arkansas 1, South Carolina 1 - Middle 3rd Inning

South Carolina committed three errors in the third that allowed Arkansas to tie the game, and an errant pitch nearly allowed the Razorbacks to take the lead.

Casey Martin reached with an infield two-out hit and went to second on a throwing error by the second baseman, Justin Row. Heston Kjerstad followed and went all the way to third on a pair of throwing errors by Row and catcher Hunter Taylor. That allowed Martin to score.

Kjerstad tried to come home on a wide pitch by Cody Morris. He hesitated for just a second, which probably cost him the run. Morris tagged him and the play was upheld upon review.

The Gamecocks entered this game with a .982 fielding percentage, so to see them throw it around like that in such a short time was surprising. It is also an indication of how much pressure Arkansas' speed can put on a defense.

South Carolina 1, Arkansas 0 - End 2nd Inning

The crowd at Baum is really unhappy with home plate umpire Mike Morris' strike zone. Morris has not given Kacey Murphy the outside corner at all today. It happened again on a 3-2 pitch that would have ended the inning, but gave South Carolina a second base runner. Another walk loaded the bases, but Madison Stokes skied one to second baseman Carson Shaddy to strand three. The Gamecocks have stranded five.

Morris and Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn had a lengthy conversation between innings and the fans behind the screen were really jawing at him. A couple even ran down to the screen to have their voices heard.

That sequence overshadowed an outstanding defensive play by Casey Martin at third base that likely saved a run. Martin made a diving stop to his left, then popped to his feet and made a perfect throw to first base for the second out of the inning.

South Carolina 1, Arkansas 0 - Middle 2nd Inning

That top of the second played out almost identical to the top of the first for Arkansas. Carson Shaddy reached with a one-out single that fell into no man's land in left field, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a sac fly. He was stranded at third when Jared Gates grounded out to the first baseman.

Arkansas has stranded a runner at third base each inning.

South Carolina 1, Arkansas 0 - End 1st Inning

This is the third time South Carolina has seen Kacey Murphy this season and the Gamecocks are touching up the left-hander. Murphy has given up three hits to five batters, including a 1-2 RBI single to Justin Row that has given South Carolina the lead.

Carlos Cortes had a one-out single and went first-to-third on a subsequent single by Madison Stokes. Row fell behind 1-2 but fouled off a pitch to get a pitch that was left up in the zone by Murphy, whose pitch count is 22. South Carolina stranded two when LT Tolbert flied out to center field.

South Carolina jumped ahead early yesterday, too.

Arkansas had a one-out base runner in the top of the first when Casey Martin singled. Martin was stranded at third when Luke Bonfield looked at strike three on a 3-2 pitch. Martin had stolen second base and an advanced on a fly ball.

Pregame

Good afternoon from Baum Stadium, where Arkansas can clinch a trip to the College World Series with a win over South Carolina.

It is a hot, partly cloudy day in Fayetteville. The temperature should reach the mid 90s today and the wind is blowing out to left field.

Arkansas is the road team today, so it will bat first. The Razorbacks are wearing their road grays with red hats. South Carolina is wearing white jerseys and red hats.

The pitching matchup today is Arkansas LHP Kacey Murphy (8-4, 2.84 ERA) vs. South Carolina RHP Cody Morris (8-3, 3.68). Murphy has two wins over South Carolina this season and took a perfect game into the final inning of their game two months ago in Fayetteville. Morris was the losing pitcher in a low-scoring game here in April.

Mike Morris is the home plate umpire today. Billy Haze is at first, Casey Moser at second and Mark Wagers is at third. Haze, the crew chief, is working his sixth super regional; Morris is working his seventh super regional; Wagers is working his second super regional and Moser, a former MLB umpire, is working his first super regional. Haze and Morris have worked one College World Series apiece.

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