Arkansas wins pitchers duel with South Carolina in series opener

No. 2 Arkansas scratched across two runs in the sixth inning, and Razorbacks pitchers totaled 16 strikeouts in a 2-1 series-opening victory over No. 21 South Carolina Friday night at Founders Park.

Arkansas (33-5 overall, 13-3 SEC) and South Carolina (26-12, 8-8) had just four hits apiece in Friday’s pitcher’s duel. The two teams combined to strand 24 runners on base.

The game was scoreless until the fifth inning when South Carolina loaded the bases without a ball leaving the infield on two walks and an infield single.

Parker Noland then drove in the game’s first run with an RBI groundout to score Talmadge LeCroy for a brief 1-0 Gamecocks lead.

A half-inning later, it was Arkansas’ turn to load the bases without a ball leaving the diamond. With one away, Gamecocks reliever Chris Veach uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Ben McLaughlin to score the Razorbacks’ first run and tie the game at 1-1.

Jack Wagner then put the Hogs in front with an RBI sac fly to left-center that scored Nolan Souza for a 2-1 lead that would last the rest of the way thanks to clutch pitching from Arkansas ace Hagen Smith and two key Razorbacks relievers.

Freshman Gabe Gaeckle tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief. Gaeckle retired eight batters in a row, finishing with five strikeouts and allowing one hit.

With South Carolina threatening in the ninth following a two-out Blake Jackson double off Gaeckle, left-hander Stone Hewlett came on to close out the game by retiring Noland on a grounder to first. Hewlett notched his fourth save of the season and his second in as many games after previously closing out Wednesday’s 5-4 Razorbacks victory over Texas Tech.

South Carolina had just two hits over the final four innings.

Smith earned the win to run his record to 8-0 in 10 starts. Despite allowing a season-high five walks, he yielded just two hits and struck out 11 in six complete innings. Arkansas has won all 10 games that Smith has started.

Ty Good (4-1) suffered the loss for South Carolina. Good took over for Gamecocks starter Roman Kimball, who faced 10 batters and threw just 48 pitches in 2 1/3 innings. Kimball exited the game after surrendering back to back walks in the third inning.


Before Friday’s game, South Carolina announced that the series would conclude with a doubleheader Saturday due to inclement weather forecast in the region for Sunday.

First pitch of Game 1 is scheduled for 12 p.m. CDT with an hour break in the action before the start of Game 2. Both games can be seen on SEC Network+.

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire