Arkansas 6, South Carolina 2

It takes until 1:22 a.m. EST, but SEC-West leading Arkansas picks up a key 6-2 win over No. 4 South Carolina Friday night/Saturday morning behind the pitching duo of DJ Baxendale and Trent Daniel and a 14-hit offensive attack led by Dominic Ficociello's four hits and three each from James McCann and Matt Reynolds.

The Beasts of the East don't seem to be scaring the current Best of the West.

Arkansas backed a great pitching effort from ace DJ Baxendale and reliever Trent Daniel with 14 hits Friday night while downing error-prone No. 4 South Carolina 6-1 in a weather-delayed game that ended at 1:22 am in Columbia.

"We didn't play very well, and I don't take anything away from Arkansas," South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner said "… We knew coming in that they have been playing very well and DJ Baxendale gave them a quality start."We had a couple of run scoring opportunities early and he was able to make some pitches and keep us off the board."

That means the No. 16 Razorbacks (33-15, 13-12) – who had to wait out a 70-minute weather delay before the start of the game - now have sole possession of the SEC West lead with a half-game edge over Alabama (12-12) and Mississippi State (13-13).

It also gives Arkansas three wins in four games over Florida and South Carolina (39-11, 18-7) the last two weekends and a 4-3 mark against the East's trio of Top 5 nationally ranked squads when you toss in an early season series with Vanderbilt.

Rookie Dominic Ficociello had four hits and Jarrod McKinney and Matt Reynolds three each to lead the Razorbacks, who beat ace Michael Roth (10-2) and the Gamecocks, whose other loss also came on a nigh when his defense committed a season-high five errors behind him.

Roth allowed three of the runs (two earned), fanned five and walked three while Arkansas got to him for 10 hits in his 5 1/3 inning stint on the mound.

"Michael - he battled for us, two earned runs and he gave up a few hits but he tried to keep us in position to come back," Tanner said, "but we didn't play well enough and Arkansas got a bunch of hits too, they were double digits there.

"They did a good job of swinging the bat no doubt about it," Tanner added. " I'd have to look at the tape to see if he missed some spots. They are a good hitting team, and like I said they have been playing really well and swinging the bat too, I know that he would like to have given up less hits, but he went 5.3 (innings) with only two earned runs, you'll take that every time.

Baxendale (8-1), coming off a complete game win over Florida, fanned six, walked three and allowed six hits while pitching into the seventh inning for Arkansas.

Daniel worked out of an inherited jam in that frame and picked up his second save by closing the game out while fanning three, issuing two walks and allowing an unearned run.

The two teams – will meet again Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in a game televised by Fox College Sports and SportsSouth while Sunday's 12:30 series finale is on Cox Sports Television.

The Razorbacks jumped out to a 1-0 in the fourth when Reynolds stole second and watched Ficociello race home from third when an errant throw sailed into center field.

McKinney's infield single pushed that margin to 2-0 when Reynolds crossed the plate.

That margin grew to 4-0 on McKinney's RBI single in the sixth and McCann scored on an errant throw to the plate in the seventh.

The Gamecocks did avoid the shutout in the bottom of the seventh when they plated a run and chased Baxendale, but Daniel got out of it by allowing just one run.

McCann and Ficociello both had RBI singles in the eight.

South Carolina then added an unearned run in ninth to set the final score.

O o o

Mississippi State downed Ole Miss 7-4 for its second win in as many days over the Rebels and will try and sweep the series Saturday afternoon.

The first game of the Alabama-Auburn series on Friday night was rained out and will be made up as part of Saturday doubleheader.


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