Diamond Hogs break loose late to win series at South Carolina

By Dudley E. Dawson
on 2024-04-20 19:47 PM


Right before the seventh-inning stretch of game two in Saturday’s doubleheader in South Carolina, No. 2 Arkansas finally flipped the script offensively.

The result was a Razorbacks’ five-run half-inning that would lead to a 9-5 win over the Gamecocks in a series-clinching victory in Columbia.

“Just a really gutsy win that game two by our team,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “I felt like a lot of guys contributed. Whether it was base running or driving in a run. Just a lot of things I really liked.”

Arkansas (34-6, 14-4) had scored just seven runs and stranded 31 baserunners in the 23 innings before the seventh inning of the nightcap.

“We were 6 for 41 or something,” Van Horn said of hits with runners in scoring position. “That’s kind of hard to swallow. Because if you think about it, we had runners all over the bases and finally today we busted it open there in the seventh. 

“We were planning on sending (starting pitcher) Brady (Tygart) back out for the seventh inning, but the inning lasted so long, we just said we need to go to the next guy.”

Tygart (4-1) got the win while going six innings while allowing two runs on four hits, fanning six and walking a pair.

Tygart threw 85 pitches, 59 for strikes.

“He was throwing three pitches for a strike,” Van Horn said. “He threw his fastball a lot for a strike, and his breaking ball, slider, regular curveball, changeup.

“He just pitched and he got ahead. He got to throw what he wanted to throw and kept them off balance. That’s the main reason he got to stay out there so long.”

Will McEntire pitched the seventh and eighth inning for the Razorbacks while allowing a trio of runs before Gage Wood closed it out and giving up a run in the ninth.

“I thought our pitching was really good,” Van Horn said. “Brady was outstanding. Mac didn’t have his best stuff. I thought Gage came in and did a super job for us.

“It was a good series win. We finally won a game three on the road. Looking forward to getting back.”

Van Horn made his sentiment clear to his team after the game.

“We just won a series on the road and you showed a lot of toughness in that second game,” Van Horn told his team afterwards.

“I mean they got to go in the air conditioning, lay down, take a shower, change uniforms, take a shower, whatever. We sit out here sweated our butts off, ate a banana and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and we won. Nice job.”

South Carolina evened the series earlier Saturday with a 6-3 win in the opener after the Razorbacks had registered a 2-1 decision in Friday night’s game.

The results in Saturday’s twinbill left Arkansas a game ahead of No. 1 Texas A&M (35-5, 13-5) in the SEC Western Division race.

The Razorbacks are two games back of SEC Eastern Division-leading Kentucky (32-16, 15-2) for the overall league lead.

It was a huge game for both teams really,” Van Horn said of Arkansas and South Carolina. “They were trying to get over .500 in the league. We were trying to win a series on the road.

“After losing the first game the way we did, it kind of got away from us early. Maybe fifth, sixth inning. For us to come back and win game two, that was really big for us.”

Arkansas took a 3-0 lead with a trio of unearned runs in the third against South Carolina starter Dylan Eskew (2-3), who gave up just one hit during that inning.

Parker Rowland’s RBI double plated the last run after a throwing error, a hit batter, a fielder’s choice, a wild pitch and walk combined to get the other two runs home.

South Carolina cut it to 3-2 on RBI doubles by Cole Messina in the third and Austin Brinling in the fifth.

Kendall Diggs doubled and scored on Peyton Holt’s single in the sixth to put the visitors up 4-2.

Arkansas then took control in the decisive seventh with a rally starting with Peyton Stovall’s single.

It continued with ones from Wehiwa Aloy and Ben McLaughlin and then Diggs’ second double of the game.

Holt capped the five run-inning with a single that chased home Diggs for a 9-2 advantage.

Arkansas will play UAPB Tuesday night in North Little Rock at 6:30 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Razorback Communications

(Last updated: 2024-04-20 19:47 PM)