Razorbacks shut down, shut out Gamecocks to take series

Special to The StateApril 5, 2014 

USC's starting pitcher, Wil Crowe

C MICHAEL BERGEN — mbergen@thestate.com

— Chad Holbrook didn’t wait to get home before addressing South Carolina’s offensive woes.

The Gamecocks coach gathered his players in the outfield and had a meeting Saturday night, shortly after they were held to five hits and suffered a 7-0 loss to close out a three-game SEC series against Arkansas at Baum Stadium.

South Carolina (26-5, 7-5) dropped two of three games in a series, and its offense was limited to three runs and 16 hits by Arkansas’ pitching.

“We’re in a funk offensively,” Holbrook said. “That goes without saying. It’s magnified a little bit when you face arms like they have and when they threw the way they threw.

“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board offensively and get better. I came into the fall thinking we’re going to be a darn good offensive team, and we’ve shown flashes of it. Against better pitching, we’ve been overpowered.”

Chris Oliver (3-3) was the latest pitcher to baffle South Carolina’s batters. The junior right-hander scattered four hits over eight innings and struck out a career-high 10. The Gamecocks (26-5, 7-5) failed to get a runner past second base.

Meanwhile, Gamecock starter Wil Crowe suffered his shortest outing and his first loss of the season. Arkansas (20-12, 6-6) roughed up the freshman right-hander for five runs — four earned — in the second inning, all of them coming after two outs.

“I had some good pitches and hit some good spots,” Crowe said. “But I didn’t hit some good spots, and their batters hit some good pitches. I’ve just got to come back next week and battle.”

Crowe (6-1) issued three walks in the second after he had allowed six in his previous 46 innings of work. The third walk came on a 3-2 pitch to Andrew Benintendi with the bases loaded and forced in Arkansas’ first run.

The Razorbacks pulled away moments later when Joe Serrano blooped a two-run single into right, followed by a two-error sequence that allowed Benintendi to score from first. Brian Anderson then ended Crowe’s night when his RBI double to right-center field capped the five-run outburst.

The Gamecocks never bounced back.

“I was more disappointed with the way we fought and the way we scrapped and clawed and tried to make something happen,” Holbrook said. “I give credit to their arms.

“It was going to be hard to score if we fought our rears off. But I think we didn’t fight hard enough, didn’t compete hard enough. I think we conceded a little bit when we got down 5-0. We didn’t fight to try to get back into the game.”

South Carolina returns to action Tuesday against Furman at Fluor Field in Greenville before it hosts Florida in a three-game SEC series next weekend.

Box score: USC-Arkansas, Game 3

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