Scott Wingo’s leadoff solo home run in the bottom of the ninth gave South Carolina a thrilling 6-5 victory over Arkansas on Saturday at Carolina Stadium. Today’s win, the 40th of the year, marks South Carolina’s 12th consecutive season with 40 or more wins; the Gamecocks are the only team in the Southeastern Conference to win 40 or more games in each of the last 12 seasons.
After Arkansas (33-16, 13-13 SEC) tied the game at 5-5 in the eighth, Matt Price held the Razorbacks off the scoreboard in the ninth with the heart of the order due up for South Carolina (40-11, 19-7). But Wingo would take care of matters with just one swing. After taking the first pitch for a strike, he roped the 0-1 offering from Arkansas righthander Ryne Stanek just out of the reach of the Razorback right fielder and into the Carolina bullpen for his fourth home run of the year, sending the announced crowd of 7,765 fans home happy. It was Wingo’s third walk-off hit of the year; he had the game-winning RBI single in a 2-1 win over Auburn on April 29 and also drove in the winning run in the ninth in a 2-1 win over Georgia.
Price (5-3) picked up the win, allowing two runs, both earned, on two hits while walking two and striking out four in 2.1 innings of work. Stanek (2-2) took the loss for Arkansas, allowing just the one run on four hits while striking out three in three-plus innings of relief. Forrest Koumas got the start for the Gamecocks, giving up two earned runs on seven hits while striking out six and walking four in 5.1 innings of work. Arkansas starter Randall Fant gave up five runs on eight hits in a five-inning starting appearance.
Steven Neff had a career day at the plate as the Gamecock pitcher was 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs; those came on his first career home run, a shot to right field in the fourth inning. Brady Thomas, hitting in the designated hitter slot today, was also 3-for-4. Wingo finished the day 3-for-5 with two RBI and the game-winning homer.
After Koumas got out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the first, South Carolina broke ahead 2-0 in the bottom half. Peter Mooney drew a leadoff walk and after a wild pitch scored on Christian Walker’s RBI single up the middle. After a Brady Thomas single advanced Walker to third, Walker would score on a RBI courtesy of Jake Williams.
That lead increased to 3-0 in the second inning on a two-out RBI single from Wingo. Neff would reach base with one out on a double to the gap in left-center and would score as Wingo drilled a base hit to right-center. Arkansas cut Carolina’s lead to a pair of runs in the top of the third as Sam Bates tallied a two-out RBI single to score Dominic Ficociello.
With a two-run lead, Carolina went ahead four runs on the back of a two-run homer by Neff, his first career home run with the Garnet & Black. Neff crushed the home run over the right field wall to give Carolina a 5-1 edge. Arkansas however would cut it back to two runs in the sixth inning with a two-out RBI single by Bo Bigham followed by a two-out RBI double off the bat of Collin Kuhn.
Arkansas tied the game at 5-5 in the eighth inning. Jarrod McKinney roped a base hit to lead off the frame and Tim Carver was hit by a pitch to give the Razorbacks a pair of runners. With two outs and Carver and McKinney on second and third base, Dominic Ficociello knocked a 1-2 pitch into right field for a single that scored both runners to knot the game up. But Price would escape with no further damage, and then pitch a scoreless ninth to set up Wingo’s heroics.
Saturday’s game started one hour later than its scheduled 5:36 p.m. first pitch due to a strong thunderstorm that came through the Columbia area prior to the game.
The series finale is set for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday and will be televised live on Cox Sports. Due to the rain on Saturday, Senior Day was pushed back to Sunday and fans are encouraged to arrive by 1:10 p.m. for the ceremony this year’s class (Robert Beary, Jose Mata, Adrian Morales, John Taylor, Brady Thomas, Scott Wingo).