March 20, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Trailing by five runs entering the bottom of the fifth inning, 12th ranked South Carolina scored seven unanswered runs capped by a three-run homer by John Jones in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Gamecocks defeated Arkansas 8-6 on Sunday afternoon to sweep a three-game SEC series. The Gamecocks are 20-2 and 3-0 in league play with Arkansas dropping to 15-6 and 0-3 in the SEC.
Jones, who hit a two-run homer in Saturday’s victory over the Razorbacks, kept his hot bat going as he went 3-for-5 with two runs and five RBI to lead the Gamecocks at the plate. Down 6-1 going into the bottom of the fifth, Jones would kickstart the rally in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out RBI single. Dom Thompson-Williams added a two-run triple as well to cut the deficit to a pair of runs. South Carolina cut the deficit to 6-5 in the sixth inning with Jones again coming through with a RBI double. It remained that way until the bottom of the eighth. Gene Cone singled with one out and LT Tolbert walked to set the stage for Jones. On Zach Jackson’s 2-2 pitch, Jones launched his team-leading sixth home run of the season over the wall in right-center to give the Gamecocks a two-run lead. Junior left-hander Josh Reagan pitched a perfect ninth to seal the win.
Reagan earned the win with 2.1 scoreless innings of relief. He is now 1-0 on the year. Jackson suffered the loss for Arkansas and is now 1-2 for the season. He allowed four runs on three hits in 2.2 innings with five walks and two strikeouts.
South Carolina went ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning. Thompson-Williams reached base on an error that was followed up by a base hit from Jonah Bride. Thompson-Williams would then score on Chris Cullen’s RBI single up the middle.
Arkansas answered with three runs with two outs in the top of the third inning to take a 3-1 lead. Cody Scroggins reached with a two-out single to right-center. After he stole second base and advanced on a throwing error by catcher Chris Cullen, the Razorbacks would put runners on the corners as Darien Simms drew a walk. The bases were then loaded as Clark Eagan reached on a hit by pitch. Scroggins scored on a wild pitch and Carson Shaddy singled to score Simms and Eagan.
The Razorbacks increased the lead to 6-1 in the fourth inning. Rick Nomura led off with a double and Cullen Gassaway singled to give Arkansas runners on the corners with no outs. After a walk to Chad Spanberger loaded the bases, Alex Gosser lifted a sac fly to left-center to score Nomura. A throwing error and another single by Clark Eagan would score two more runs and give Arkansas a five-run cushion.
Jones’ three-run homer in the eighth inning helped lift the Gamecocks to a two-run victory.
Alex Destino’s fifth inning single extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
Junior outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams has reached base in all 22 games this season. He also owns an 11-game hitting streak.
Scott struck out three batters in 3.1 innings with just four hits allowed and one walk.
Sunday’s win marked the first win for the Gamecocks this season when trailing entering the seventh inning.
South Carolina is 16-0 on the year when out-hitting its opponent. The Gamecocks are 14-0 on the year when hitting at least one home run and 17-0 when scoring first in a game.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
That was a really neat game for me to be a part of and our team. I’ve got a bunch of new guys and when you get behind a really good opponent you get to see how they react in the dugout for the first time. It was a neat experience for me to watch them dig deep against probably the best, if not one of the best, relief pitchers in the country in action. We had some really good and competitive at bats against him. I couldn’t be more proud of the grit, determination, winning attitude and competitive spirit my team showed. We didn’t play perfect baseball by any stretch but we played winning baseball. John Jones, I don’t really know how to describe him other than that “it factor” he has it. You always want to coach kids that have that “it factor.” Whatever that “it factor” is that coaches talk about, I think Jones has it. The big swing of the bat obviously, twice. He had a fastball on Zach Jackson where I think it came in and he laced it for a double, that got the adrenaline going in the dugout. But he split the alley so they tried to keep the speed off of him in the next at bat. But the kid has a knack of putting the barrel of the bat on the ball and he did it in a big moment today. But all of our kids, we scratched and clawed and fought. I think what’s going to go unnoticed is the job that Reed Scott did to keep Arkansas at bay. He didn’t allow them to stretch the lead out anymore which gave us a chance. Then Josh Reagan was phenomenal at the end. I think Adam Hill, his line doesn’t show it, but he threw some good pitches in there. He may not have had the fast ball and the giddy up that he’s had the last couple of outings but he threw some good pitches in there and he pitched in some tough luck. I’m extremely comfortable in his development and I think he’s going to be a special pitcher for us. It was a great weekend against a great opponent for us. The ball kind of bounced our way and I think we had something to do with it. We certainly made some things happen. We will take a deep breath. No mid week games this week and we will get ready for Ole Miss this week.
South Carolina heads on the road for a three-game series at Ole Miss. The series opener is set for Thursday, Mar. 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network Plus and can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”