Gamecocks drop wacky series opener

On a bizarre and wacky Friday night that stretched into the wee hours of Saturday morning, South Carolina was dealt a tough 6-2 blow against Arkansas to start a key SEC series at Carolina Stadium.

It was a series opener against the Razorbacks that featured some of everything – from a two-hour rain delay and tarp slides to a falling third base umpire and a combined nine errors – and a win was simply not in the cards for the Gamecocks.

Entrenched in a tight SEC race, South Carolina picked the worst time for one of those unexplainable, shrug it off, baseball games. And after dropping last weekend's series at Ole Miss and watching with extra interest the Vanderbilt-Florida series, the Gamecocks now have even less room for error.

It also marks the third straight SEC game the Gamecocks dropped after basically steamrolling through the first seven conference opponents.

Michael Roth was charged with his first loss since the opening SEC series outing against Georgia. Roth gave up two earned runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings of work and drops to 10-2 on the season.

It's one bad game senior captain Brady Thomas sure hopes to flush quickly.

"It's a grind every day – we'll just have to battle.," said Thomas, who was responsible for three balls thrown into the outfield on steal attempts.

Arkansas starter D.J. Baxendale moved to 8-1 on the season and got plenty praise from USC coach Ray Tanner for his six innings on the mound, allowing just one run no six hits with six strikeouts and three walks.

"We knew coming in that they have been playing very well and DJ Baxendale gave them a quality start," said Tanner.

USC (39-11, 18-7) missed many golden opportunities, stranding 11 runners along with several base running mistakes and infield errors. The Gamecocks tied a season-high with 5 errors, which resulted in four Arkansas runs.

Arkansas, who left 12 runners on base, found ways to capitalize big on USC's uncharacteristic mistakes.

One of South Carolina's lone bright spots on the tumultuous night is DaSean Anderson. Anderson was one of four Gamecock batters that recorded a hit, going 2-for-3 at the plate, including a double, an RBI and run scored. Robert Beary, Scott Wingo, and Thomas accounted for the other three USC hits.

The Razorbacks broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning with a pair of runs, sparked by Dominic Ficociello's lead-off single up the middle. Ficociello stole second and advanced to third on Thomas' thrown error into the outfield. Matt Reynolds drew a 1-out walk and also stole second. Another error charged to Thomas scored Ficociello from third and Reynolds later rounded home on Jarrod McKinney's RBI infield hit.

Arkansas tacked on an insurance run in the sixth inning, taking a 3-0 lead. Reynolds led the inning with a double shot to right-center field and scored on McKinney's RBI single. The Hogs loaded the bases in the seventh inning and would add another run on a play at home, that pulled Thomas' foot off the plate, allowing Collin Kuhn to score.

The Gamecocks finally answered with a run in the seventh inning. Marzilli's leadoff walk and Beary's base hit put runners on the corners and no out. Anderson reached on a fielder's choice to shortstop, allowing Marzilli to score.

Arkansas put the game out of reach with a pair of RBI singles in the eighth inning. However, South Carolina went down fighting, scratching across a run in the last inning as Anderson singled and scored on a throwing error.

The game was originally scheduled for a 8 p.m. start on ESPNU but was delayed due to inclement weather before the first pitch was ever thrown. The game finally started at 10:00 p.m. and finished around 1:22 a.m. Saturday morning. Friday's game will be shown in its entirely Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. on ESPNU.

Saturday's game, which is also Senior Day, is set for 4:30 p.m. on SportsSouth. Fans are encouraged to get in their seats by 4:10 as the USC baseball program honors six seniors: Robert Beary, Jose Mata, Adrian Morales, John Taylor, Brady Thomas, and Scott Wingo.

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