South Carolina’s quest for a third straight College World Series title endures.
The Gamecocks downed SEC-rival Arkansas, 3-2, in comeback fashion on Friday to earn a date with Arizona in the best-of-three finals.
The two-time defending champions fell behind 2-0 before tying the game in the fifth inning. Joey Pankake had an RBI single and Christian Walker drew a bases-loaded walk in that frame and Adam Matthews walked with bases jammed in the seventh to push across the winning run.
Tyler Webb tossed four scoreless innings of relief in place of starter Colby Holmes, who surrendered both Arkansas runs in just two innings. Matt Price pitched the final three innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five to help South Carolina move on.
Colby Suggs was charged with the deciding run, although Barrett Astin issued the seventh-inning, bases-loaded walk. Starter D.J. Baxendale gave up two runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Matt Reynolds drove in a pair for the Razorbacks, who had been undefeated in the CWS before falling to South Carolina, 2-0, on Thursday.
The Gamecocks had downed Kent State earlier Thursday to stave off elimination and will open play against Arizona on Sunday. The Wildcats advanced to the finals with a 10-3 win over Florida State on Thursday.
Arkansas jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Friday when Tim Carver led off with an infield single, advanced on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Reynolds’ base hit to left field.
In the third Carver and Reynolds delivered again. The former doubled, moving Jake Wise, who was hit by a pitch, to third base and Reynolds lofted a sac fly to right, making it 2-0.
In the tying fifth, Tanner English singled and Chase Vergason walked before Pankake ripped an RBI single up the middle. Baxendale then issued consecutive walks to force in the tying run.
In the seventh, Suggs issued walks to Pankake and L.B. Marzilli before giving way to Astin, who allowed an infield single to LB Dantzler, loading the bases. Matthews then worked a full count before Astin missed low and away, allowing the go-ahead run to cross the plate.