Dugger's Blast Cold Cocks Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- In a scene reminiscent of Kirk Gibson's famous game-winning homer in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Arkansas' Jake Dugger threw jabs with his left fist between first and second base following his ninth inning blast over the right-center field wall.

Dugger's team-leading fifth homer clinched the Razorbacks' 5-3 win against South Carolina in front of 4,527 at Sarge Frye Field on Sunday.

"I knew I was going to get some help from the wind when I hit it," Dugger said. "But I was blowing as well to try to help it out and when I saw it disappear, I just jumped up and started pumping my fist."

With the victory, No. 15 Arkansas (18-2 overall, 2-1 in Southeastern Conference play) won the three-game series against the No. 4 Gamecocks (17-3, 1-2). The Hogs claimed a 9-1 win Friday and lost 12-3 on Saturday.

"This was real big," Dugger said. "We knew it was going to be a fight when we came in here and we threw the first punch Friday. Then, they came back and got one in on us Saturday because they're a good team.

"But we threw the last punch."

And Dugger's blast delivered the knockout.

Arkansas goes to Centenary for a two-game series beginning Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Shreveport, La.

"I think (the players) were a little bit embarrassed by what happened (Saturday)," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "They wanted to come out (Sunday) and prove that Friday's win wasn't a fluke."

Clinging to a 3-2 lead, Dugger's two-run homer gave the Hogs all the cushion they needed to finish off the Gamecocks.

"Dugger hit a ball in the alley there where it was carrying a little bit to give them a little bit of insurance," said USC coach Ray Tanner. "Without that, we're sending the tying run to the plate to start the ninth inning."

It proved to be even more important as South Carolina rallied for a run in the bottom of the ninth -- which would've tied the score -- before Hogs reliever Trey Holloway slammed the door on the Gamecocks to record his fourth save.

"I told them at the start of the inning that we needed to score at least one run," Van Horn said. "It's just hard to stop a team with a lineup up like that from scoring a run in the ninth, so we felt like we needed a couple of runs lead."

Arkansas was afforded the lead thanks to some superb pitching by freshman starter Sean Seibert, who allowed one unearned run on two hits in seven innings.

It was the second time a freshman pitcher held the offensive-oriented Gamecocks in check after Nick Schmidt flirted with a no-hitter during Friday's win.

"I just commented (to the players) how proud I was of the two freshman pitchers and how they stepped it up," Van Horn said. "I told them that, ‘Now we expect you to do that every week.'"

Seibert didn't even allow a runner to reach second base until the fourth inning when Chris Brown was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Seibert struck out six, but admittedly didn't have his best stuff on Sunday.

"It really helped motivate me watching Schmidt do what he did against them," said Seibert, who is one of Schmidt's roommates. "So I came out with the idea of trying to one-up him, just a friendly competition kind of deal, and I just went right after them and attacked them."

Even without his best stuff, Seibert impressed South Carolina's batters.

"He threw a lot of pitches, but he threw them all for strikes," said USC's Steve Pearce, who drove in the only run against Seibert in the sixth. "It was kind of hard to get to their bullpen early in the game because he was getting ahead of everybody (in the count)."

Arkansas took a 3-0 lead in the fourth when Danny Hamblin crushed a three-run homer off USC starter Wynn Pelzer, a hard-throwing right hander who struck out five in 3 1/3 innings.

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