COLUMBIA, S.C. – Arkansas junior right-handed pitcher Ryne Stanek tossed the second complete game of his collegiate career, allowing two unearned runs and striking out seven, as the 17th-ranked Razorbacks defeated No. 6 South Carolina, 4-2, on Saturday afternoon at Carolina Stadium.
The win clinches the series for the Razorbacks. It’s Arkansas’ first series victory at South Carolina since taking two of three in 2009. Arkansas is now 16-7 on the season, 3-2 in Southeastern Conference play, while South Carolina falls to 18-5, 2-3 in league play.
Stanek turned in the best start of his junior season against the Gamecocks, tossing the second complete game of his Arkansas career. Stanek also went the distance on June 5, 2011, in the Razorbacks’ 11-3 win over Charlotte in the NCAA Tempe Regional.
In this contest, Stanek gave up two unearned runs on three hits to earn his second win of the season. Only one of South Carolina’s three hits left the infield with the other two being infield singles. Stanek struck out a season-high seven batters and issued just one walk. The junior right hander got stronger as the game progressed, retiring 14 of the final 16 batters he faced, including the final six men South Carolina sent to the plate.
South Carolina starter Nolan Belcher (4-2) took the loss. Belcher gave up four runs, two earned, on nine hits and struck out six in 7.1 innings.
Arkansas recorded 10 hits in the victory, the fourth-consecutive game of 10 or more hits for the Razorbacks. Brian Anderson, Dominic Ficociello and Jacob Mahan had two hits to lead the Razorbacks. Jacob Morris, Matt Vinson and Tyler Spoon each had a hit and a RBI in the victory. Vinson’s hit and RBI came on his first home run of the season.
Connor Bright, Shon Carson and Tanner English each had one hit for the Gamecocks. George Iskenderian and Chase Vergason each had a RBI in the loss.
South Carolina struck first, scoring a run in the bottom of the fifth. After Grayson Greiner reached on a two-base throwing error by Anderson to start the inning, the Gamecocks played small ball, using a sacrifice bunt from Bright and a sacrifice fly from Vergason to plate the game’s first run.
The lead was short lived as Arkansas responded with a run in the top of the sixth. Mahan led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Joe Serrano. Spoon came through with a RBI single to left, scoring Mahan and tying the game.
Arkansas took its first lead of the game with two runs in the seventh. Morris gave the Razorbacks the lead with a bunt single down the third base line, scoring Ficociello. A throwing error by South Carolina shortstop Joey Pankake allowed the second run to score as Morris crossed home plate on the error.
The Razorbacks stretched the lead to three in the top of the eighth as Vinson hit his first home run of the season, a one-out blast over the wall in left field.
South Carolina got a run back in the bottom of the eighth as Bright scored on a RBI groundout by Iskenderian to cut the Arkansas lead to 4-2.
The Gamecocks were unable to get any closer as Stanek worked a perfect ninth inning to seal the 4-2 victory.
The series concludes on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 12:30 p.m. (CT). Arkansas will start senior southpaw Randall Fant (1-0, 1.12), while the Gamecocks have not announced their starter for the series finale.