Hogs rally for split: USC offense struggles vs. Arkansas pitching

Special to The StateApril 4, 2014 

— South Carolina’s bats had a hard time figuring out Trey Killian, posting six hits against the Arkansas right-hander Friday afternoon.

Half of those hits were in the eighth inning, however, and it was enough to give the Gamecocks a 2-1 victory in the series opener at Baum Stadium.

The early win helped USC earn a split of the Friday doubleheader as the Razorbacks took the nightcap, 4-1.

In the opener, Marcus Mooney drove in the decisive run when his two-out single scored Tanner English. They were the only Gamecock batters to enjoy any success – two hits apiece – against Killian (1-5).

“It’s a difficult place to play, and their pitchers are awfully good,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said. “They can overpower, they can overmatch you. I think for the most part, they did.

“I thought we battled Killian pretty well, and it didn’t show on the stat sheet. We hit a couple of balls on the nose and didn’t have anything to show for it.”

Killian had allowed one runner to reach second base through the first seven innings before DC Arendas belted a one-out double into right-center. English followed with a shot past third, driving in Arendas with the tying run.

One out later, Mooney pushed an opposite-field single into right, and English slid home ahead of the tag to give South Carolina the lead.

“We’re no offensive juggernaut right now, by any stretch of the imagination,” Holbrook said. “I still like our team offensively. We’re just struggling to bunch hits.”

Jordan Montgomery (4-2) enjoyed a solid performance as the left-hander allowed four hits through seven-plus innings. His only blemish came when Blake Baxendale’s two-out double scored Brian Anderson, who had walked, stole second and took third on a throwing error.

Montgomery left the game after he issued a leadoff walk in the eighth, but Cody Mincey relieved and made the lead stand. Joel Seddon pitched a perfect ninth to record his eighth save of the season.

“I just pounded the fastball early,” Montgomery said. “I knew they were going to try to look for the change-up late, so I just pounded the fastball when I could. I’ve been trying to quicken my tempo a little bit and make my delivery faster.”

In the nightcap, the Razorbacks salvaged a split by jumping out for three early runs against USC starter Jack Wynkoop.

Jalen Beeks (5-2) made that cushion stand as the sophomore left-hander fired a four-hitter in his second complete game. Beeks struck out the side in the first inning and finished with nine strikeouts.

Tyler Spoon put Arkansas (19-12, 5-6) ahead for good when he singled and scored on Anderson’s two-out single in the first. Spoon then made it 3-0 when he followed a walk and a Gamecock error with a two-run double into right-center field.

South Carolina (26-4, 7-4) scored its only run when Joey Pankake reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on Connor Bright’s two-out single in the fourth. The Gamecocks failed to capitalize on four Arkansas errors and hit into three double plays.

Wynkoop (5-2) allowed one earned run over 6 2/3 innings before Taylor Widener relieved and finished up.

The two teams conclude their three-game series with a 7 p.m. game Saturday. The finale is on ESPN3.

Box score: USC-Arkansas, Game 1

Box score: USC-Arkansas, Game 2

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