Razorback pitching holds South Carolina hitters to 8 runs
The Gamecocks knew they would have a tall order facing the Razorbacks’ pitching staff in their second conference series of the season.
After Sunday’s 5-3 loss, coach Chad Holbrook took responsibility for USC’s offensive struggles throughout the weekend. South Carolina scored just eight runs in three consecutive losses to Arkansas.
“It’s no easy task to hit a baseball, especially against the quality arms we’ve faced this weekend,” Holbrook said. “Our guys are trying. As frustrated as I am at them, I know they’re trying. But maybe I can do a better job coaching them and getting them into the right spot.”
The Razorbacks’ pitchers overwhelmed USC hitters throughout the weekend. After Friday’s 15-3 loss, Holbook said he wasn’t terribly upset with the Gamecocks’ approach because Arkansas pitcher Barrett Astin is “as good as it gets.”
South Carolina fell behind 9-0 in that contest, taking away the possibility of manufacturing runs through stolen bases and bunts, as the Gamecocks usually do. They finished the series-opener with six hits.
But Arkansas’ Ryne Stanek pitched a complete game against USC on Saturday, holding the Gamecocks to three hits in a 4-2 loss. Stanek was a power pitcher who threw as fast as 98 mph.
After the game, Holbrook said the Gamecocks did not have many quality at-bats despite getting deep into counts. He described Stanek as a top-10 first-round draft pick who “is going to be a millionaire in a few short months” and was just better than the Gamecock hitters.
“The velocity sneaks up on you, but we knew what we were going to get when we found out he was starting,” said sophomore shortstop Joey Pankake.
In Sunday’s series finale, with the game tied at three, Pankake led off both the eighth and the tenth innings with a single, and senior first baseman LB Dantzler followed with a sacrifice bunt. Dantzler, who leads the Gamecocks in batting average, said he was not surprised to be asked to bunt.
Holbrook said he would have let the senior hit against a right-handed pitcher but added that he has struggled against left-handers this season.
Dantzler said the Gamecocks would have to adjust to Arkansas’ pitching quality because “that’s what you see in this league.” Dantzler said. He added that playing conditions were not ideal throughout the weekend but that the Gamecocks could not use the cold as an excuse.
Holbrook said his entire lineup needs to use the field better and be tougher with two strikes.
“We have to make a few changes and adjustments and change our mindset and mentality a little bit and see if we can get some positive momentum going,” Holbrook said. “There’s a lot of good pitchers in front of us, and a lot of good teams, but we’re not doing enough.”
Schrock plays through illness: Holbrook said after Saturday’s game that second baseman Max Schrock played on “pure guts” after losing 10 pounds in 24 hours due to illness. The freshman had not eaten a meal in 36 hours prior to the game.
“I tip my cap to that kid for even trying to play today,” Holbrook said.
Schrock was hitless in nine at-bats in the final two games of the series, hitting .260 in the first 21 games he played this season.