The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: No. 11 South Carolina drops two of three games against top-ranked Arkansas

The No. 11 South Carolina baseball team dropped two of three games at home to the No. 1 Arkansas Razorbacks after struggling offensively behind solid pitching in all three games.

This is the first series loss for the Gamecocks at home all season, and their second series loss since starting SEC play. They drop to 11-7 in conference play and 25-12 overall. 

Game one

The Gamecocks couldn't get the bats hot on Thursday in their 6-1 loss to Arkansas.

Head coach Mark Kingston said postgame he challenged the team to do better at the plate and for redshirt junior righthanded pitcher Thomas Farr to make some adjustments on the mound.

According to Kingston, improvements on those two fronts are the key to winning SEC series openers for South Carolina. 

Farr achieved one of those two goals with his performance against the Razorbacks, pitching five scoreless innings and striking out five with only two walks.

Sophomore infielder Robert Moore would hit two balls out of the park to bring in three of the four runs Farr would allow to Arkansas all night.

 “While we did lose tonight, I feel really good about the progress I’ve made these last few weeks, and that’s all you can really ask for — just moving in the right direction," Farr said.

The offense couldn't give Farr any run support throughout the game, as they continued to struggle at the plate, handing him his fourth loss of the season as he continues to go winless in the SEC.

Sophomore catcher Colin Burgess doubled down the rightfield line to score the only run for the Gamecocks in the fourth inning.

South Carolina got another opportunity to score in the sixth with senior rightfielder Andrew Eyster and junior first basemen David Mendham on base with no outs, but a failed bunt from junior leftfielder Josiah Sightler and a double play kept the Gamecocks from gaining any momentum.

“We need to do a better job offensively. Last hump for us to cross and get over is scoring against elite SEC pitching on Friday nights," Kingston said. "That’s the last piece of the puzzle for us."

Game two

In come-from-behind fashion, South Carolina defeated Arkansas 6-2 in the first game of a doubleheader.

Through five innings, the offense looked completely lost, as they managed to garner one hit against sophomore righthanded pitcher Peyton Pallette.

However, in the sixth, the bats came alive and the Gamecocks scored four runs, providing a spark that carried the team to victory.

After putting runners on the corners with one out, Pallette was pulled from the game, putting the lead into the hands of the Razorbacks' bullpen.

With senior righthander Zebulon Vermillion in to pitch, the Gamecocks scored four runs on three hits to take the lead for good.

For South Carolina, senior righthanded pitcher Brannon Jordan did what he could in spite of having no run support, allowing one earned run on three hits while striking out four.

The bullpen was phenomenal, as junior righthanders Brett Kerry and redshirt Andrew Peters combined to pitch 4.1 innings of shutout baseball, surrendering one hit and striking out six batters.

"There's no question about it. Our bullpen is as good as anybody in the country," Kingston said.

In the eighth, the Gamecocks tacked on two more insurance runs, as Burgess and junior third baseman Michael Robinson added run-scoring singles.

Game three

In the rubber match of the series, the Gamecocks lost 5-1 to the Razorbacks.

Offensively, it was a challenging night, as the bats couldn't catch up with junior lefthander Patrick Wicklander's fastball.

In seven innings, he allowed one run on two hits and struck out five batters.

His only mistake of the night came in the third inning when junior centerfielder Brady Allen clobbered a 430-foot home run onto the left field concourse.

Besides that, there was not much to boast about, as the bats were extremely quiet. The only other hit of the game came off of Mendham's bat, who singled in the second inning.

With runners on, Arkansas neutralized the Gamecocks, holding them hitless in seven at-bats.

Additionally, the offense struck out the Gamecocks 11 times on Friday night, with eight coming from the two through four hole hitters in the lineup.

On the mound, freshman righthanded pitcher Will Sanders did not bring his best, allowing four runs on six hits while striking out three in five innings.

"We're really close," Kingston said. "I don't think anybody has faced as much great, high-level competition as we are, and we're 25 and 12 with a top-10 RPI, and I still think our best days are ahead of us."

What's next?

South Carolina will wrap up its four-game homestand on Tuesday night, as The Citadel comes to town. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. and can be streamed on SEC Network+.