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May 16, 2010

Box Score

Fayetteville, Ark. – Whit Merrifield homered twice including a two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning and five Gamecock relievers combined for six scoreless innings as South Carolina defeated Arkansas 5-3 on Sunday afternoon to sweep a three-game series at Baum Stadium. The win improves the Gamecocks to 41-11 and 20-7 in the SEC while the loss drops Arkansas to 38-14 and 16-11 in conference play. South Carolina returns to action on Tuesday night hosting Furman with first pitch at 7 p.m. at Carolina Stadium. The game will be televised live on SportSouth and can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at The Gamecocks are tied for first with Florida in the SEC heading into the final weekend of conference play and will host the Gators beginning on Thursday night at Carolina Stadium.

Trailing by a run, the Gamecocks made their move in the top of the eighth inning. With reliever Jordan Pratt into the game for Arkansas, leadoff hitter Scott Wingo drew a walk on four pitches. With a full count, Merrifield drove a two-run homer to left center for his second homer of the game and 12th of the season giving the Gamecocks a one-run lead. The Gamecocks added some key insurance as Adrian Morales drove a solo homer to left center, his fifth of the season to give South Carolina a 5-3 lead.

That was enough for freshman Matt Price, who handcuffed the Razorbacks in 1.1 innings of relief to pick up a save, his seventh of the season and second of the series. Gamecock reliever John Taylor earned the win after two scoreless innings of relief with just one hit allowed. Taylor is now 3-2 on the year. Arkansas reliever Jordan Pratt suffered the loss after allowing three runs on three hits in one inning. He is 3-1 for the year.

South Carolina took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Whit Merrifield led off with a single and scored on Christian Walker’s one-out RBI double to deep center field. Arkansas struck back in the bottom half of the first as Brett Eibner connected with a two-run homer giving Arkansas a 2-1 lead, the Razorbacks first lead of the series. After Zack Cox reached base on an infield hit off the glove of Webb, it would be Eibner who came through as he knocked a 2-1 pitch to left center for his 18th home run of the year.

Both teams’ leadoff hitters hit solo homers in the third inning. Merrifield tied it up at 2-2 in the top of the third inning with a solo home run to left field, his team-leading 11th of the year. Merrifield launched a 1-2 pitch from Arkansas starter T.J. Forrest that just stayed fair and was off the foul pole. Collin Kuhn answered for Arkansas as he stroked 1-0 pitch from Webb to left center, also his 11th homer of the year that put Arkansas back out front 3-2.

Both bullpens stymied the opposing offense from the fourth through the seventh inning as Gamecock relievers Jose Mata, Steven Neff and John Taylor kept Arkansas off the scoreboard and were matched by Razorback relievers D.J. Baxendale and Geoffrey Davenport.

Merrifield had a 3-for-4 day with three runs and three RBI. Zack Cox was 2-for-3 to lead the Razorbacks at the plate.