Arkansas beats South Carolina in SEC Tournament

By: Matt Jones
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Arkansas infielder Hunter Wilson, left, puts a Hog hat on outfielder Dominic Fletcher after Fletcher hit a home run during the first inning of an SEC Tournament game against South Carolina on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, in Hoover, Ala.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas infielder Hunter Wilson, left, puts a Hog hat on outfielder Dominic Fletcher after Fletcher hit a home run during the first inning of an SEC Tournament game against South Carolina on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, in Hoover, Ala.

Arkansas 13, South Carolina 8 - Final

LT Tolbert's fifth RBI of the game was an RBI single the opposite way, but the game ended when Chris Cullen hit into a 5-4-3 double play with the bases loaded.

That ends a game that lasted 3 hours, 48 minutes after a 9:45 p.m. start.

It was not pretty for Arkansas defensively with five errors, but the Razorbacks' hitters took the life out of the Gamecocks early in the game. Both teams finished with 11 hits.

Arkansas will play the late game again tomorrow night against Florida. South Carolina will play LSU in an elimination game tomorrow afternoon.

Arkansas 13, South Carolina 7 - Top 9th Inning

Kole Ramage just ran out of gas, walking a batter and loading the bases with one out for South Carolina. Barrett Loseke is coming into the game to try to end this rally.

Arkansas 13, South Carolina 7 - Top 9th Inning

Arkansas has had a really poor start to the ninth, allowing three straight South Carolina hitters to reach on two hits and a throwing error by Casey Martin - the Razorbacks' fifth error of the game.

Madison Stokes' RBI double scored a run for the Gamecocks.

Arkansas 13, South Carolina 6 - End 8th Inning

Jared Gates was hit by a pitch with one out but Jack Kenley and Eric Cole each struck out to end the inning.

This long game might be about to end, though. The Razorbacks are three outs away and it will be up to Kole Ramage to finish it.

Arkansas 13, South Carolina 6 - Middle 8th Inning

A great sliding grab by Heston Kjerstad robbed South Carolina of at least one run and possibly more in the eighth. The catch came on what looked like it would be a gapper from Jacob Olson. Kjerstad got a good jump off the bat, covered a lot of ground and slid to his left across the wet grass.

South Carolina had consecutive base hits against Kole Ramage to lead off the inning, but both of those runners were stranded.

Ramage has done well in his relief outing. He has given up two hits and struck out two in 2 1/3 innings.

Arkansas 13, South Carolina 6 - End 7th Inning

Casey Martin struck out to strand two more base runners. Arkansas has stranded eight tonight. The Razorbacks have out-hit the Gamecocks 11-6.

Arkansas 13, South Carolina 6 - Bottom 7th Inning

The Razorbacks forced a pitching change after loading the bases with two outs in the seventh, and Dominic Fletcher drove in two with an RBI single to the opposite field. That brings Casey Martin to the plate with two runners aboard.

Arkansas 11, South Carolina 6 - End 6th Inning

Grant Koch added a two-out single in the sixth, but the inning ended when Jared Gates chased a high fastball from South Carolina reliever Parker Coyne, a freshman right-hander who has been pretty good for the Gamecocks. Coyne has allowed two hits and a walk, and struck out five in two innings.

Arkansas 11, South Carolina 6 - Bottom 6th Inning

Casey Martin's two-out solo home run to left field gets one of those runs back. That was Martin's second home run to almost the same spot in left tonight. He also had a two-run homer in the fourth inning. That brings his season total to 12, which ties him with Eric Cole for the team lead.

Arkansas 10, South Carolina 6 - Middle 6th Inning

Throw all that talk about a run rule out the window. South Carolina's LT Tolbert just hit a one-out grand slam to make this lead a lot less comfortable for Arkansas.

The Gamecocks put five consecutive hitters on base with one out in the inning and did it in a variety of different ways. There were two walks - including one with the bases loaded - a single and a fielding error by Carson Shaddy, the Razorbacks' fourth error of the game.

Kacey Murphy also allowed a two-out single and his night is finished. He was rolling after five innings, but came undone in the sixth.

Kole Ramage, who pitched well in a Game 3 start at Georgia, got out of the inning with a groundout.

Arkansas 10, South Carolina 1 - Middle 5th Inning

Kacey Murphy continues to deal for Arkansas. He was perfect in the fifth with two foul outs and a strikeout.

Murphy has only thrown 60 pitches - an incredibly low number for any pitcher, but especially for one who has struggled with pitch counts early in so many games.

If Arkansas can make this a run-ruled game, Murphy will have started two run-ruled games at the SEC Tournament. He was the starter for the Hogs' 16-0 win over Florida in the semifinal last year.

Arkansas 10, South Carolina 1 - End 4th Inning

The Razorbacks are cruising. All nine of Arkansas' hitters have reached base at least once tonight and the Razorbacks are out-hitting the Gamecocks 8-2.

Arkansas 10, South Carolina 1 - Bottom 4th Inning

Casey Martin's towering two-run home run to left field has given the Razorbacks a huge lead. It scored Luke Bonfield, who led off the inning with a single.

Arkansas has two home runs already in this park, which is notoriously difficult to hit home runs in. Remember the Razorbacks had 10 home runs in Hoover last year - thanks in large part to Chad Spanberger's five homer tournament - which was second-best for a team at the SEC Tournament, behind the Alabama gorilla ball team in the late '90s.

Arkansas 8, South Carolina 1 - Middle 4th Inning

Kacey Murphy gave up a leadoff single in the fourth, but it was erased when Jack Kenley and Carson Shaddy turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Murphy has been really good tonight pitching to contact. He has given up two hits and needed only 49 pitches through the first four innings.

By comparison, Murphy needed 58 pitches in the first three innings against Texas A&M two weeks ago and was around 60 through three innings last week at Georgia.

Murphy has been better the second and third times through the order this season, so it will be interesting to see if he settles in more than he already appears to have done.

Arkansas 8, South Carolina 1 - End 3rd Inning

The Razorbacks' first three hitters in the inning reached. Grant Koch walked and Jared Gates and Jack Kenley followed with singles. Kenley's single scored Koch and the Razorbacks added another run on Carson Shaddy's sacrifice fly to deep left-center field.

Arkansas is out-hitting South Carolina 6-2 and has scored multiple runs each inning.

If this pattern holds, a run rule might come into play. The SEC Tournament run rule is 10 runs after seven innings. That might be welcomed news for everyone involved in this late game.

Arkansas 6, South Carolina 1 - Middle 3rd Inning

The Gamecocks are on the board after Jacob Olson singled off Kacey Murphy's leg, advanced to second on a throwing error by Murphy, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored after a throwing error by Casey Martin. Another South Carolina runner advanced to third base in the inning, but Murphy struck out Madison Stokes to end the inning and strand the runner.

Errors have been a killer for the Razorbacks on the road this season. Arkansas has 33 errors in 23 games away from Baum Stadium, as opposed to 23 errors in 32 games at home.

Arkansas 6, South Carolina 0 - End 2nd Inning

The Razorbacks stranded the bases loaded when Casey Martin grounded out to the pitcher, a right-handed submariner, Hunter Lomas.

Regardless, this has been about as good of a start as Arkansas could have hoped to have. South Carolina is scrambling on the mound right now, likely with the thought process that it is going to have to have a lot of arms for a game against LSU in about 14 hours if this game doesn't turn around.

Arkansas 6, South Carolina 0 - Bottom 2nd Inning

Carson Shaddy walked to load the bases with one out. Heston Kjerstad followed with a sacrifice fly to score Jack Kenley, and Eric Cole scored on a two-out RBI single by Luke Bonfield.

The bases are still loaded as South Carolina goes to the bullpen again. Casey Martin will be the ninth Arkansas hitter to come to the plate this inning.

Arkansas 4, South Carolina 0 - Bottom 2nd Inning

South Carolina starter Logan Chapman is finished after a 1 1/3-inning performance in which he could not find the plate. Chapman issued three walks and was all over the place.

Jared Gates' four-pitch walk gave Arkansas a one-out base runner in the second and he scored after consecutive singles by Jack Kenley and Eric Cole. Freshman right-hander TJ Shook is the reliever.

Carson Shaddy is coming to the plate with a good RBI opportunity.

Arkansas 3, South Carolina 0 - Middle 2nd Inning

Kacey Murphy is doing a good job of pitching to contact through two innings. He needed only 11 pitches in the second, which included a two-out single by South Carolina's six-hole hitter, LT Tolbert.

Casey Martin made a nice defensive play for the first out, back-peddling on a two-hopper off the grass and throwing out the runner by a step or two at first base.

Arkansas 3, South Carolina 0 - End 1st Inning

Arkansas' first two batters struck out, but Heston Kjerstad and Luke Bonfield drew two-out walks and Dominic Fletcher hammered a 3-1 fastball for a home run over the center field wall to give the Razorbacks a healthy lead.

South Carolina starter Logan Chapman threw 27 pitches in the first inning and really struggled with his command. Four of the first five hitters went to three balls in the count. Eric Cole struck out swinging at a high fastball that would have been ball four in the leadoff at-bat.

Chapman struggles with walks. He has issued 31 in just over 58 innings.

Arkansas 0, South Carolina 0 - Middle 1st Inning

Kacey Murphy has been shaky early in his starts the past few weeks, but he looked strong in the first inning tonight. He needed only eight pitches to retire South Carolina in order on a pair of groundouts and a fly out.

Going back to the game in Fayetteville, Murphy has retired 21 of the 22 South Carolina batters he has faced this season.

Pregame

Arkansas and South Carolina are scheduled to begin at 9:45 p.m. This is a non-elimination game. The winner will play Florida in the late game tomorrow night, while the loser will play LSU in an elimination game tomorrow at approximately 1 p.m.

Both teams are throwing pitchers who did well in the series between them earlier this season. Arkansas left-hander Kacey Murphy took a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Gamecocks, while South Carolina freshman right-hander Logan Chapman was the only opposing SEC pitcher to win a start at Baum Stadium.

Jax Biggers is out of the lineup again tonight for Arkansas. He swung a bat Monday for the first time since breaking his finger during the opener of the Texas A&M series two weeks ago and the hope is he can be back in the lineup tomorrow. Jack Kenley will start in his place at shortstop.

Dave Van Horn has tweaked the lineup some tonight, moving Carson Shaddy to second in the batting order and Casey Martin to sixth. Jared Gates is getting the start at first base and is batting eighth.

Eddie Newsom is the home plate umpire for this game. Darrell Arnold is at first base, crew chief Jeff Head is at second and Kevin Sweeney is at third. Arnold and Head worked the Auburn-Ole Miss game earlier today.

There is a slight chance of rain in Hoover tonight. The temperature will be in the low 70s throughout the game, but a 100 percent humidity will make it feel a lot warmer.

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