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Hogs humble Dyson, USC

USC's Sam Dyson delivers a pitch in the first inning during the Gamecocks game against Arkansas at Carolina Stadium, Friday, April 3, 3009.
USC's Sam Dyson delivers a pitch in the first inning during the Gamecocks game against Arkansas at Carolina Stadium, Friday, April 3, 3009.

Once again, Sam Dyson was beaten up by the opposing batters. When it was over, the USC pitcher came to the postgame news conference and kept up the beating.

“I don’t know what happened. It’s embarrassing. It’s a disappointment,” Dyson said.

Anointed the Gamecocks’ ace entering the season, Dyson had his third poor showing in four starts Friday night in a 6-4 loss to Arkansas at Carolina Stadium.

In his past four starts, Dyson has yielded 22 runs (all but one earned) in 24 innings.

“I think everybody expects more out of me, especially as a Friday night guy,” Dyson said. “And that’s not how I’ve been pitching lately.”

The loss lands the Gamecocks in an early hole for this weekend’s series — and in the season overall. USC (19-9, 4-6 SEC) is below .500 one-third of the way through league play.

“We’re a little bit off the pace of where I’d like to be,” USC coach Ray Tanner said. “But this team has done some good things.”

The problem for the Gamecocks is they expected their pitching to be a strength. But Dyson’s struggles have put a crimp in that theory.

Arkansas (21-5, 9-1), which owns the best record in the SEC, took advantage. The Razorbacks’ started their attack against Dyson with a solo home run by Scott Lyons and finished it on a three-run homer by Zack Cox. Those two batters entered the game with a combined three home runs this season.

Dyson retired the first 10 batters, striking out half of them, and Arkansas only had three hit balls out of the infield.

It unraveled from there.

The game’s 11th batter, Lyons, belted a homer into the USC bullpen in right-center. The next three batters all reached base to bring in another run.

Arkansas added its third run in the fifth, and Dyson was lucky not to allow any more after the Razorbacks had two runners on base with one out.

He had no such luck in the sixth when the first three batters each got hits — the last a three-run home run to deep right by Cox.

“The kid made a good swing on the ball that was over the plate, and hit it about 5,000 feet,” Dyson said.

Dyson disputed the notion that Arkansas solved him the second time through the lineup. Instead, he blamed his own approach — especially with his changeup.

“I started babying it midway through and wasted it the second time around,” Dyson said. “And I elevated a couple fastballs, and they took advantage of it.”

Tanner seemed to agree with Dyson’s diagnosis of his troubles.

“It was really not being able to locate in some critical situations,” Tanner said.

The Gamecocks staged a mini-rally, scoring a run in the sixth — but leaving the bases loaded — and getting a two-run homer from Whit Merrifield in the seventh.

But the Gamecocks’ final seven batters failed to reach base, the last five by strikeouts. All three strikeouts in the ninth were on called third strikes.----------------

Pitching matchups:

-- Saturday, 4 p.m. — USC LHP Nolan Belcher, Fr., 0-1, 5.70 vs. Arkansas RHP T.J. Forrest, Jr., 2-1, 3.72

-- Sunday, 1 p.m. — USC RHP Blake Cooper, Jr., 4-2, 4.01 vs. Arkansas LHP Drew Smyly, Fr., 2-1, 2.84

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