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Messina's Two Home Runs, 5 RBI Lead Gamecocks Past Razorbacks 6-5

By Doug Kyle

South Carolina came into the Southeastern Conference Tournament on a six-game conference losing streak, but they started a new streak this week by winning their second straight in Hoover, AL, with a 6-5 victory Wednesday afternoon over Arkansas, holding off the Razorbacks in the bottom of the ninth inning and moving to a Thursday afternoon contest against similarly-streaking LSU.

The formula for this victory came down to threes. Catcher Cole Messina had three hits, two of them home runs, and drove in five of the six runs. The pitching was split three ways among starter Eli Jones (3 1/3 IP), Ty Good (2 2/3 IP), and Garrett Gainey (3 IP).

For the Razorbacks, Peyton Stovall also had three hits, followed by Ben McLaughlin's two hits. Also notable in a dubious manner was that Messina's second home run came off Gabe Gaekle, the first long ball he'd given up this season.

The South Carolina victory also marked the fourth time in six SECT games so far that the lower seeded team won (the others were Vanderbilt taking the 8/9 matchup over Florida and Mississippi State needing a come-from-behind walkoff homer to beat Ole Miss), perhaps an indication of those teams in the upper half playing their position in NCAA tournament seeding or hosting conversation a bit more conservative than the lower half, with more to gain by a strong showing during the week they hope lands them in the Field of 64.

Arkansas remains alive in the double elimination phase and will play Kentucky in the 9:30 am game on Thursday.


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