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South Carolina Had A Chance And Let It Go

By Sinderella

South Carolina hosted a Top 5 Arkansas team over the weekend, with a belief they were going to get another Top 5 upset at home, like they did to Vanderbilt earlier in the season. Unfortunately, the Gamecocks could not capitalize on many chances to win the series and lost it 2-1. This was one that was always going to be a hard one to win, but the Gamecocks had every chance to win this series and couldn't do it.

In game one, South Carolina faced off against Hagen Smith, who is regarded as the best pitcher in the SEC, and maybe college baseball, and he proved it again, going six innings with 11 strikeouts and allowing only one run. As impressive as he was, South Carolina was able to get guys in scoring position multiple times versus Smith, but never seemed to get that one hit they needed to potential open the game in their favor. The ump didn't help South Carolina at all. I never complain about umps because I know they are part-timers and they are universally not very good. My thing is if you're going to be bad, then be bad for both teams, not this ump. This guy was pro-Arkansas all night long and it was top 5 worst umping performances I have ever seen. Mark Kingston was thrown out late in the game, because he couldn't believe what he was seeing with this guy. We have to do better. It's getting ridiculous.

The encouraging thing with this game was South Carolina started Roman Kimball instead of the normal Friday starter, Eli Jones. Roman was great through 2 innings until he had to leave the game with a hand issue. Ty Good came in and was great, as usual. Arkansas was able to piece together 2 runs through a sac fly and a pass ball. That was all the Razorbacks needed as they shut down a late rally by the Gamecocks to win 2-1.

Game 2 was all South Carolina as they got the the early 2-0 lead. Arkansas was able to get a run in, but South Carolina answered back with a 4 run 6th inning to bring the lead to 6-1. The Razorbacks were able to bring 2 runs across in the final 3 innings including the only homerun of the series by Stovall in the 9th, but South Carolina was able to put a halt to it to secure game 2 with a score of 6-3.

Eli Jones got the start for game two and even though Arkansas got hits off him, he only allowed 1 run. He had a pretty good day, as usual. The bullpen was fantastic as they were able to shut Arkansas down until the end of the 9th where things got a little scary, but Conner McCreery was able to come in and get the final 2 outs to secure the victory.

This brings us to the rubber match and this one was the ugliest of them all. Dylan Eskew got the start and he was fantastic as he went 5.2IP with only allowing 1 run. The downside is the defense behind him didn't do him any favors as Arkansas went up 3-0 in the 2nd due to two bad throws to first by Lee Ellis and Parker Noland that would've taken the lead runner out and ended the inning. Those bad throws gave Arkansas momentum and they took advantage of it. Throughout the game Arkansas kept stringing hits and runs together to take a 9-2 lead after a 5 run 7th inning. The Gamecocks battled back and brought some runs in, but the early missed throws were the difference as South Carolina lost 9-6.

Arkansas is a team that isn't going to over power you, but instead they do everything right. They excel at the little things and never mess up. If you are going to beat them, then you have to plain good sound fundamental ball. South Carolina did not do that this weekend and that is why they lost. Arkansas didn't beat them, South Carolina beat themselves and Arkansas took advantage of it when South Carolina made mistakes. If South Carolina can figure out how to be consistent and more opportunistic, then this team can play with anyone.

Oh, and one other thing; Mark Kingston made a controversial move to sit Dylan Brewer for Austin Brinling. All I have to say is....Brinling was fantastic (outside of him getting picked off twice). Look for him to get more opportunities going forward.

(All pictures courtesy of @GamecockBll)

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