COLUMBIA, S.C. — Chalk up another Southeastern Conference baseball series for Arkansas.
The Razorbacks took South Carolina's best shot and appeared to be down for the count after allowing a four-run first inning to the Gamecocks.
But it was the Razorbacks who delivered the knockout blow Sunday, getting timely two-out hitting and outstanding relief pitching in a 7-4, come-from-behind win in front of an announced 6,727 at Carolina Stadium.
Arkansas (22-6, 10-2) has now won its first four SEC series of the 2009 season, giving the Hogs their first four-series winning streak since 2006.
"I made the comment to the team, a lot of times if the other team has a big inning and you can hold them a little bit and start chipping away, they'll start pressing," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "And before you know it, the game's tied. That's basically what happened. We got through the third and fourth innings and they had some runners in scoring position and we felt like we had a chance to win."
For the second Sunday in a row, redshirt freshman Drew Smyly struggled on the mound. Just like last weekend against Mississippi State, Smyly failed to get out of the first inning and didn't even record an out as South Carolina built the early, 4-0 lead. But once Arkansas went to the bullpen, everything changed.
Justin Wells worked in and out of tough spots for three innings — allowing three hits and two walks — before Mike Bolsinger took over in the fourth. And just like Friday night, Bolsinger was nearly untouchable, giving up just one hit to help the Razorbacks mount their comeback.
"Obviously we punched in some runs and we felt like we were going to win the game," Van Horn said. "Wells did just good enough to give us a couple of innings and Bolsinger was lights out. The only question was do you take him out. I knew they were going to take pitches a little bit, but he was throwing strikes. So if we would have lost it would have been on me, but I just felt like he was the guy. Just leave him in until they made us take him out."
With Wells and Bolsinger keeping South Carolina (20-10, 5-7) in check, Arkansas slowly but surely turned the tables on the Gamecocks. Two home runs in the fourth inning — a solo shot by Jacob House and two-run blast by Zack Cox — pulled the Hogs to within 4-3. Then in the fifth, Chase Leavitt came through with a two-out, two-run double off the centerfield wall, scoring Brett Eibner and Andrew Darr to give Arkansas it's first lead.
Cox then added another two-run hit in the seventh, winning a tough battle against Carolina reliever Alex Faratto when he managed to bloop in a single just over the head of third baseman Andrew Crisp.
"Give credit where credit is due," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. "Leavitt hits that ball off the wall with two strikes, Cox hits that big home run and then keeps fighting off pitches and gets another hit that scores two more runs. So we were in a position to get outs, but they made some big swings when they needed to and they shut us down offensively."
From there, it was all Bolsinger for the second time in three days. In six innings, Bolsinger allowed just three baserunners and needed just 62 pitches to close out another series win for the Razorbacks.
"I think if we would have won yesterday and they come out and score four runs early, okay whatever," Van Horn said. "But with the way we got handily whipped really for first time this year, for us to give up four in the first and to also go to our bullpen before the first inning is over, that shows a lot about the team and our makeup and character.
"Even if we would have lost, just as long as it was close we battled. But for us to get the win, it was just a great team win."
Arkansas 7, South Carolina 4
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