South Carolina 5, Arkansas 3
FAYETTEVILLE - South Carolina scored three runs off Arkansas closer Jordan Pratt and the Gamecocks came from behind for a 5-3 win and series sweep Sunday at Baum Stadium.
Whit Merrifield's two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning gave the No. 8 Gamecocks the lead for good and Adrian Morales added a solo home run to leadoff the ninth inning as the No. 12 Razorbacks dropped their fifth straight game at home.
Pratt entered the game in the eighth after Razorback reliever Geoffrey Davenport had pitched a perfect 1 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. He was roughed up, however, giving up three runs on three hits in his first loss of the season.
"Pratt had been pitching really well," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He was very good last weekend. He was particularly good on Tuesday and he was fresh."
Davenport entered with speedy South Carolina center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. on third base with one out in the top of the sixth inning. The left-hander struck out Christian Walker and got Jeffery Jones to pop-up to center field to kill the threat and retain a 3-2 Arkansas lead.
Davenport struck out four of the five batters he faced.
"Davenport had just pitched yesterday," Van Horn said. "He was going good, but you can't leave him out there. He needed to come out. Hindsight is 20-20 but Pratt had been so good. You can't leave Davenport out there too long."
The Razorbacks (38-14, 16-11 SEC) had taken the 3-2 lead on Collin Kuhn's solo home run to lead off the bottom of the third inning after Merrifield had hit a home run off the left field foul pole to tie the game for the Gamecocks in the top of the inning.
Arkansas had taken a 2-1 lead on Brett Eibner's 18th home run of the season in the bottom of the first inning.
The Hogs had several chances to extend the lead but struggled offensively for the third straight day. Arkansas stranded five base-runners, including a man on second base in each the sixth and seventh innings, and Matt Reynolds was thrown out trying to steal second base to end the eighth.
For the weekend Arkansas recorded just five runs on 16 hits against South Carolina pitching.
"Our pitching was good most of the weekend," Van Horn said. "We didn't give up a lot of runs, but our offense didn't produce. We didn't drive in any big runs."
South Carolina (41-11, 20-7) used seven pitchers on the afternoon. John Taylor picked up the win by working two scoreless innings of relief before giving way to Matt Price, who earned his second save of the weekend.
"We use our bullpen a lot; maybe not as much as we did today but that's been our theme all year," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. "We try to stay in the game four or five innings and then turn it over to the bullpen and try to mix and match.
"We were fortunate with those home runs. I know we won all three games but it was a pretty even series. We were just able to score more runs."
The Gamecocks kept pace with Florida for first place in the SEC overall standings with the win.
The loss coupled with Auburn's win over Tennessee leaves Arkansas outside first place in the SEC West for the first time since April 10.
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