FAYETTEVILLE - In a match-up of undefeated pitchers and SEC division leaders, Blake Cooper and South Carolina got the best of Drew Smyly and Arkansas Friday night.
Cooper became the SEC's first pitcher to record 10 wins by striking out seven batters in as many innings as the No. 8 Gamecocks beat the No. 12 Razorbacks 3-2 in front 9,217 fans at Baum Stadium.
"That was about as good as we could do," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. "You have to be almost perfect against a team like Arkansas. Cooper has been the Friday night guy for us. There are a lot of great pitchers in this league - including Smyly, who was outstanding as well. Cooper gave us a chance and we got some help out of the bullpen.
"It was a great game and anybody could have won."
South Carolina (39-11, 18-7 SEC) took the lead for good in the top of the seventh inning. Jackie Bradley Jr.'s RBI double off Smyly scored Whit Merrifield and gave the Gamecocks a 3-2 lead.
"That got us back in position," Tanner said. "We had scored but they had answered and we answered back. To be good on the road you have to be good to the very end."
The Gamecocks chased Smyly after seven innings. The Arkansas sophomore allowed six hits and struck out nine batters in his first loss of the season and the team's first Friday night loss in six weeks.
"There's only about one pitch I bet he'd like to have back," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He pitched good and the bullpen did a good job. It was just one of those games we didn't do a good job offensively and their pitchers just took it to us."
Arkansas (38-12, 16-9) had a chance to tie or take the lead in the eighth inning but stranded two runners as South Carolina used three relief pitchers in the inning.
For the night the Razorbacks left six runners on base and recorded a season-low three hits.
"We just couldn't get the big hit," Van Horn said. "We've got to drive people in."
Freshman DJ Baxendale, who retired six of the seven batters he faced, gave Arkansas another chance by working a quick ninth inning but Monk Kreder and Matt Vinson struck out and Tim Carver grounded out to short stop to end the game.
The Razorbacks tied the game 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Brett Eibner reached on a hit-by-pitch and Andy Wilkins followed with a two-out RBI double off Cooper.
South Carolina had taken a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning when Nick Ebert scored on a Kyle Enders two-out RBI single.
What turned out to be a pitchers' duel was anything but early on. South Carolina loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning and took a 1-0 lead on Adrian Morales' sacrifice fly to score Merrifield before Smyly responded with a pair of strikeouts to get out of the inning.
Cooper gave up a leadoff walk to Collin Kuhn in the bottom half of the first and he scored two batters later on a Zack Cox RBI double. Cox eventually reached third base but was stranded when Wilkins struck out to end the inning.
The Razorbacks put runners on third in each the first, third and fourth innings but were unable to convert each time.
South Carolina 3, Arkansas 2
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