Gamecocks Win in Dramatic Fashion

Scott Wingo's walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the South Carolina baseball team to a much-needed 6-5 win over Arkansas Saturday evening at Carolina Stadium. With the win the Gamecocks remained in the hunt for the SEC Championship with Vanderbilt and Florida.

In major need of a win following Friday's major letdown, South Carolina (40-11, 19-7) provided that and then some Saturday night at Carolina Stadium.

Scott Wingo blasted a walk-off home run into the Gamecocks' dugout, capping a dramatic 6-5 victory over Arkansas and squaring the series at 1-1. The baseball team poured onto the field in jubilation and the USC faithful roared in celebration as Wingo cracked a huge smile rounding the bases.

With one swing of the bat, Wingo helped erase some of Friday's night misery while keeping the Gamecocks well in discussion for a SEC Championship, heading into the final week of regular season play.

"I just think that we wanted to come out and we didn't get a win last night but we knew we needed a win today and I thought we fought real hard," said Wingo, who also had winning hits in three other games this season. "They came at us and we looked resilient, we fought hard and that was big."

The Gamecocks are tied with Florida for second in the SEC standings with a 19-7 record. Vanderbilt leads the conference with a 20-6 record.

USC head coach Ray Tanner said he was proud of the way his team responded and fought back from Friday's adversity. "It was a hard fought win today, I am really proud of our guys for hanging in there and being able to win a game against an Arkansas team that has been really really special the last few weeks," said Tanner.

Saturday's triumph is only appropriate for a baseball series that has been anything but normal.

The start time was delayed for the second straight night due to strong inclement weather that rolled through Columbia Saturday afternoon. Unlike Friday night, Saturday's delay was only an hour but washed out USC Senior Day Festivities altogether.

Nevertheless, the senior captain from Greenville, provided plenty of festivities and late-game heroics against the Hogs.

For seven innings, it appeared no drama would be needed for the Gamecocks in earning their 40th win of the season. South Carolina built a 5-1 lead through five innings before Arkansas started to make a move. The Razorbacks scored a pair of runs on three hits to cut into Carolina's lead.

Arkansas chipped away even more, rallying to tie the game at 5-5 on Matt Price in the eighth inning. Jarrod McKinney led the charge with a single to left field, followed by a hit by pitch. A sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. Batting in the #3 spot, freshman Dominic Ficociello took advantage on a rare pitching mistake by Price and ripped a 2-run RBI single to right field. Price was able to get out of the jam without further damage, inducing a Kyle Robinson shortstop popout and stranding two Razorback runners.

Looking to flush Friday's loss, South Carolina exploded with momentum in the first inning. South Carolina scored a pair of runs in the opening inning, sparked by Peter Mooney's leadoff walk. After Scott Wingo flied out to right field, Mooney took second a wild throw and later scored on Christian Walker's RBI single. USC plated its second run when Jake Williams reached on a throwing error by third baseman Matt Reynolds, allowing Walker to score from third.

Steven Neff, who went 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored, connected with a double to left field in the second inning. Neff scored on Wingo's single to right field. Neff is a candidate for the starting pitching spot Sunday but doesn't mind showcasing his offensive talents in the meantime. Neff added some extra cushion in the fourth inning on a 2-run home run to right field to give South Carolina a 5-1 advantage.

"I feel like I am still a pitcher, but I'm having fun out there I'm glad coach gave me the opportunity play some and start swinging the bat. I don't really care if I am called a hitter or a pitcher because I am fine doing both," said Neff. Price earned his fifth win of the season, going 2.1 innings and allowing two earned runs on four strikeouts, 2 hits and 2 walks in 11 batters faced. It was, however, the first time Price blew a save since the Clemson series in March.

Saturday's exciting win marks the 40th of the year for the Gamecocks. USC is the only team in the SEC to win 40 or more games in each of the last 12 seasons.

The rubber match between South Carolina and Arkansas is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday and will be televised on Cox Sports. Also, Senior Day Festivities will be held prior to Sunday's game. Fans are asked to arrive by 1:10 p.m. for the ceremony as the Gamecocks honor six seniors: Robert Beary, Jose Mata, Adrian Morales, John Taylor, Brady Thomas, and Scott Wingo.

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