Photographs by Charlie Kaijo
South Carolina infielder Justin Row (3) scores during the second game of the NCAA super regional baseball, Sunday, June 10, 2018 at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville. Arkansas fell to South Carolina 8-5.
Monday, June 11, 2018
FAYETTEVILLE -- South Carolina is the only team to beat the Arkansas Razorbacks in their last 26 games at Baum Stadium and the Gamecocks now have done it twice.
The Gamecocks beat the Razorbacks 8-5 on Sunday before an announced crowd of 11,481 to tie their NCAA super regional at 1-1.
The teams will play a series-deciding game at 6 tonight with the winner advancing to the College World Series.
"This is probably the way it's supposed to be," University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Coach Dave Van Horn said. "It's supposed to come down to one game, winner take all and the other team goes home."
Van Horn said he told his players to get their minds right, get over the loss and be ready to play their best game tonight.
"I have confidence in our team," Van Horn said. "They've come through all year long and put together good games after they've played a game where it doesn't go so well. They've been real resilient.
"They know what's it's all about. They've been there. It's not like we just lost our puppy. We're OK. We're going to be all right."
Arkansas is 33-4 at Baum Stadium and had won 13 consecutive games at home -- including 9-3 over the Gamecocks on Saturday night in the super regional opener -- since losing to South Carolina 3-2 on April 12 in the teams' regular-season series.
"It says they're good," Van Horn said of the Gamecocks winning two games at Baum Stadium. "That's why they're they're here. It's a super regional.
"Now it just comes down to one game. It doesn't really matter what we did in the past."
South Carolina (37-25) was the home team Sunday and scored five runs in the fifth inning -- including a grand slam by LT Tolbert followed by a home run by Hunter Taylor off Arkansas reliever Jake Reindl -- to take a 7-1 lead.
NO. 6 ARKANSAS BASEBALL VS. SOUTH CAROLINA
WHEN 6 p.m. today
WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville
STARTING PITCHERS South Carolina: TBD; RHP Isaiah Campbell (4-6, 4.17 ERA).
RADIO Razorback Sports Network. Check local listings.
"He left a breaking ball over the plate," Tolbert said. "I didn't think I hit it out. I just knew I got some good backspin on it and I was fortunate it carried out of the park.
"I kind of blacked out whenever I was running the bases. I don't even remember what happened. This is what I've been waiting my whole life for, to play in this moment. This is why I came to South Carolina."
Van Horn said Tolbert got the ball up into the wind.
"Give him credit," Van Horn said. "He hit a pretty good pitcher's pitch. It was out of the strike zone and just like that they scored four runs. So props to them."
Reindl replaced Arkansas starter Kacey Murphy (8-5), who pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed 6 hits, 4 runs and 4 walks. He came into the game with 16 walks in 88 innings.
"He just really didn't command anything," Van Horn said.
Not getting some borderline pitches called for strikes, Van Horn said, probably led to some frustration for Murphy.
"He was just struggling, struggling," Van Horn said. "There [were] no easy innings. He was behind in the count and couldn't throw his breaking ball over the plate."
The Razorbacks (43-19) got a two-run home run from Carson Shaddy in the sixth inning and a home run from Heston Kjerstad in the seventh then added a run in the eighth to pull within 8-5.
Luke Bonfield hit a two-out single in the ninth, but Sawyer Bridges -- who pitched the final 3 1/3 innings for South Carolina -- got Dominic Fletcher on a flyout to end the game.
"Regardless of stats, whoever plays the best on that day wins the games," Gamecocks Coach Mark Kingston said his team's two victories at Baum Stadium. "I don't think we're going to be distracted by stats, past, future, predictions. We just show up to play great baseball."
Tolbert said the Gamecocks feel good about tonight's game despite Arkansas' dominating home record and being 2-4 against the Razorbacks this season.
"We don't really look at that stuff, so we're just trying to focus each game," Tolbert said. "I thought we've matched up well with them all year, despite winning only two of the games so far. "
The Razorbacks haven't lost back-to-back home games this season.
"We're going to wake up and get to the yard ready to work," Shaddy said of tonight's matchup. "They're not going to give us anything, but we wouldn't want it any other way.
"We want to be tested. We don't want to be handed anything. That's not who we are.
"So we're going to come here and play our best game of the year and see what happens."
Sports on 06/11/2018
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