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April 5, 2014

Diamond Extra: Arkansas Game 2

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- If South Carolina isn't in an offensive slump, it's across the street from one.

Having scored five runs in its past three games, including just one unearned run in Friday's 4-1 loss to Arkansas, the Gamecocks are treading on thin ice even though they've managed to win two of the three thanks to a walk-off single Tuesday and a two-run eighth-inning rally in Game 1 Friday.

"We're no offensive juggernaut right now by any stretch of the imagination," head coach Chad Holbrook said. "We've scored (three) runs in two games and won, so we're fortunate."

In Game 2 Friday, the Gamecocks' one through four hitters went a combined 0-16. Notable oh-fors for both games Friday were Elliott Caldwell (0-for-8), Joey Pankake (0-6) and Grayson Greiner (0-8). Other lineup stalwarts weren't much better. Max Schrock was 1-6 and Connor Bright was 1-8.

"I still like our team offensively," Holbrook said. "It's just we're scuffling, and getting hits in bunches against those pitchers is awfully difficult. "This is a difficult place to play and their pitchers can overpower you. They can overmatch you, and I think for the most part they did.

"We live to fight another day and will see if we can come out tomorrow and put some hits together.

"(Arkansas' Game 2 starter Jalen Beek's) special," Holbrook said. "You can look at his numbers and tell. They have some special arms, there's no doubt about it.

"We had a couple of good at-bats in there, but they were all spread out. I thought we battled (Arkansas' Game 1 starter Trey) Killian pretty well. It didn't show on the stat sheet, hit some balls on the nose but didn't have much to show for it."

ARKANSAS ANEMIC: USC wasn't the only team Friday struggling with the bats. The Razorbacks as a team hit .133 in Game 1 (4-for-30) and .154 in Game 2 (4-26). For the day, Arkansas hit .143. Of the Razorbacks' five runs, only two were earned, and the earned run in the first game was helped by a throwing error by Greiner that sent the stealing runner from second to third. Had Blake Baxendale's RBI hit been a single and not a double, the run would have been unearned.

DEFENSE DEFICIENT: South Carolina committed three errors in the second game and one in the first for a total of four - the same amount Arkansas had in the second game alone. The difference in the second game was that the Razorbacks scored three unearned runs off the USC errors while the Gamecocks failed to convert on free opportunities time and time again.

PEN PERFECTION: South Carolina's bullpen did not allow a run or a hit in two games Friday. Cody Mincey, Joel Seddon and Taylor Widener combined to throw 3.2 innings of scoreless, hitless baseball, walking none and striking out five.

COLD CAKES: With his 0-for-4 outing in Game 1, Pankake saw his streak of 16 straight games come to an end. Friday's performance is one Pankake would like to forget quickly. He was 0-8 at the plate and committed two errors in the field.

MONTY MAGNIFICENT: Jordan Montgomery showed he's returned to form with a stellar outing in Game 1 in which he got a win for the first time in almost a month.

After struggling in his last three starts against quality competition (Clemson, Ole Miss and Kentucky) in which he compiled a whopping 14.18 ERA, Montgomery rebounded to pitch seven innings against Tennessee allowing only one earned run and four hits, and on Friday against the Razorbacks did the exact same thing: seven innings pitched, four hits, one earned run allowed. In his past two starts, Montgomery's ERA is a more Montgomery-like 1.29. For the season, Monty's ERA is now 3.83.

"It was really neat to see Jordan Montgomery throw the way he did in game one," Holbrook said.

Before getting the win Friday, Montgomery's last win came on March 8 against Brown.

WYNKOOP, WIDENER WASTED: Lost in the errors and double plays was a gem of a game thrown by starter Jack Wynkoop and Widener.

Only three Razorbacks had hits as the pair allowed just four hits overall and one earned run. Wynkoop allowed all four hits and all four runs, while Widener threw a perfect 1.2 innings in which only a Tanner English error allowed a batter to reach base.

Kentucky 17, Florida 1
LSU 3, Mississippi State 4
Alabama 5, Texas A&M 1
Vanderbilt 6, Tennessee 4
Georgia 2, Missouri 1
Ole Miss 8, Auburn 5

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