Arkansas’ pitching slays Gamecocks
Notes: Razorbacks have given up two runs in past 32.1 innings
OMAHA, Neb. -- It had to end sometime. South Carolina’s record-breaking 22-game NCAA tournament win streak is over. So is the NCAA-record 12-game College World Series streak.
Leave it to the only other SEC team remaining in Omaha to figure it out and slay the dragon -- the first team to do so since Oklahoma beat the Gamecocks in the 2010 CWS. Arkansas found a way in a 2-1 victory Monday night.
That’s what SEC teams do to one another.
Now, it’s the Razorbacks who are in the driver’s seat and it’s the Gamecocks who will need to win three games in a row just to get back to the CWS Championship Series to try to win their third consecutive national title.
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Much was made of all the runs scored during the team’s regular-season series at the beginning of May. Arkansas starting pitcher Ryne Stanek allowed five runs in five innings against the Gamecocks on May 4. But on Monday, the right-hander gave up just three hits and one run in six innings.
It’s the Razorbacks pitching staff that has gotten them to this point. In the end, it was finally the wrench which halted the machine that is South Carolina in the postseason. Barrett Astin closed the door, going the final three innings while allowing just one baserunner.
Just how good have they been?
The Arkansas pitching staff has allowed just two runs in its last 32.1 innings. In the NCAA tournament, the staff boasts an ERA of 1.75 (14 ER in 72.0 innings). The Razorbacks became just the third team since 1976 to allow a run or less in each of its first two games of a CWS. The only other teams to accomplish the feat over that span are Pepperdine in 1992 (6-0 vs. Wichita State, 7-0 vs. Texas) and Texas in 2005 (5-1 vs. Baylor, 5-0 vs. Tulane).
“Stanek and Astin were very, very good [Monday night],” South Carolina head coach Ray tanner said. “Our hitters battled. I thought our guys battled hard up there. But their stuff was very special. At least from where my vantage point, I thought they were very, very good.”
Tanner has never made a big deal about "the streak." Neither have his players. Now that it’s over, it’s something that will always be remembered.
“I realize that we lost, and that's part of it,” Tanner said. “It was a great run. These guys, some are still here, and the guys that had come before, it's one of those things that you don't know if it could happen or if it will ever happen again. It's been a pretty good run. I'm proud of what these guys did and how they battled. But Arkansas [on Monday night] was a better team. They won, and they advanced.”
The head coach in the first-base dugout Monday night never said a word about it either to his Razorbacks team.
“They're a great team,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “It's almost unimaginable that you could win 22 games in a row in the postseason. It's incredible.
Hat's off to Coach Tanner and his group. They've done a tremendous job. But our guys just came out and did what they do. Play hard, and throw a lot of strikes.”
The Gamecocks fell to a measly 27-2 in the past three seasons during NCAA tournament play.
In the end, South Carolina is still alive and will play on Wednesday night. One thing’s for sure, though: without at least a three-game win streak, a new champion will be crowned in 2012.
MORE THAN A GAME: In probably one of the most trying times of his life, Kent State’s Jason Bagoly fought through the grief of unexpectedly losing his mother four days ago to play a key role in the Golden Flashes’ 5-4 win against Florida in Monday’s CWS elimination game.
Bagoly’s mother Cheryl McHenry died on Friday morning of natural causes, but he decided to stay with the team in Omaha rather than heading home. While he did not play in Saturday’s loss to Arkansas, Bagoly got his time to shine against the Gators as Kent State head coach Scott Stricklin put him in the starting lineup in the designated-hitter spot.
“We talked about it as a staff and we went back and forth,” Stricklin said. “You think about the ramifications if he has a bad game. What if he gets out there and plays and things go wrong?”
Bagoly made the most of the opportunity, going 2-for-3 with a run scored, a double and a sacrifice bunt.
“I think that shows you what kind of kid he is, and how tough he is,” Stricklin said. It gave our team a lift. It really did. His first at bat, to battle like he did and get that base hit off of [Florida pitcher Jonathon] Crawford … I mean, it was unbelievable.
“I think he needed that. I think his family needed that. I'm just really proud that he's on our team.”
Bagoly will fly home to Ohio on Tuesday for his mother’s funeral, and spend some time with his family.
“We're part of his family, we're always behind him, and he knows that and that helped him battle and succeed the way he did [Monday],” catcher David Lyon said.
QUICK HITS: Arkansas started off 2-0 in CWS play for the second time in program history, and first time since 1979, the school’s first trip to Omaha. The Razorbacks won their first three CWS games in 1979 before losing twice to eventual champ Cal State Fullerton. … South Carolina reliever Tyler Webb tossed the longest relief outing of his career for the Gamecocks, throwing 5.1 shutout innings with four strikeouts. It was his longest outing overall since a 7.1-inning start against Southern Illinois on Feb. 26, 2011. During Webb’s past four outings, he has struck out 14 batters in 11.0 innings pitched, holding foes to just four hits. … Stony Brook baseball will be honored by the New York Mets at Tuesday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles at Citi Field. The Seawolves will attend batting practice, meet some of the Mets players and then be honored prior to first pitch.