Razorbacks rally to take series against Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Mike Bolsinger was masterful over six innings of relief for the No. 4 Arkansas baseball team asthe Razorbacksrallied from a four-run first inning deficit to defeat the No. 28 South Carolina Gamecocks at Carolina Stadium in Columbia, S.C., on Sunday afternoon, 7-4.
Arkansas (22-6, 10-2 SEC) continues to build upon its best start ever in Southeastern Conference play and won its fourth consecutive SEC series for the first time since 2006 with the series-clinching victory. South Carolina (20-10, 5-7 SEC) loses its sixth consecutive series to the Razorbacks.
For the Razorbacks it was all about pitching after the first inning when they surrendered all four South Carolina runs. Senior Justin Wells came in relief with no outs in the first inning and tossed three innings, allowing three hits and two walks. Bolsinger took over from there and was brilliant in his second outing against the Gamecocks in three days as he pitched six innings of one hit, one walk baseball while striking out three. Bolsinger’s outing earned the right-hander his third win of the season.
For the third time in the series South Carolina scored in the bottom of the first forcing the Razorbacks to play catch up. The Razorbacks were easily able to overcome the minimal one-run deficit on Friday night but struggled on Saturday with the two runs the Gamecocks scored. Sunday afternoon’s four runs loomed large through the first three innings, but Arkansas’ three-spot in the fourth combined with superb pitching proved to be the mix Arkansas needed to win.
A leadoff single by South Carolina with two strikes on the hitter was followed up by a pair of walks which loaded the bases. A balk scored one and a double to right-center field by Parker Bangs scored two more runs and chased Arkansas starter Drew Smyly. The Gamecocks would add a fourth run on a RBI single.
The Razorbacks started Sunday’s game swinging the bats and would account for five hits in the opening three inning. The fourth is when the bats paid dividends as Jacob House led off with a home run to right field. Brett Eibner would follow with a walk and score five pitches later when freshman Zack Cox hit a deep fly to center field that cleared the fence despite a leaping center fielder’s best attempt to corral the hit. The home run by Cox was his fourth of the season and brought the Razorbacks to within one, 4-3.
Arkansas would come all the way back from its four-run deficit in the top of the fifth with a pair of runs to take a 5-4 lead. Eibner led off with a walk and with one out, Andrew Darr fought off a two-strike pitch and blooped a single to right field. Then with two outs Leavitt stroked his fourth hit of the game, a double over the center fielder’s head which short hopped the fence and scored two runs.
The hogs would add two more in the seventh when Zack Cox hit a 2-2 pitch off the end of the bat and just over the head of the South Carolina third baseman. Ben Tschepikow led off the seventh with a single to left and was followed by a walk to Andy Wilkins. The tandem moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by House and scored on the Cox single.
Leavitt led the Razorback offense with his second four-hit game of the season. House contributed three hits to the Arkansas cause while Cox and Darr each had two. Scott Lyons, Tschepikow and Eibner each had one hit to round out Arkansas’ 14-hit attack.
The Razorbacks return to the friendly confines of Baum Stadium for their next five games, the first coming against top-five ranked Arizona State on Tuesday and Wednesday evening at 6:35 p.m. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.