South Carolina has a win against a top 10 opponent for the second time in a week.
The Gamecocks, five days after knocking off No. 9 Kentucky in Lexington, upset No. 3 Arkansas, 3-2, in the series opener in Fayetteville. USC improved to 20-14 overall and 6-7 in the SEC while the Razorbacks dropped to 25-10 and 8-5.
Carlos Cortes went 3-for-5 with the go-ahead home run in the fifth inning. Cortes, a preseason All-American, raised his batting average to .241. The two-run HR – an opposite field shot that barely got over the left field wall – was his eighth of the season.
""it was a really good college baseball game," Carolina coach Mark Kingston told reporters afterward. "Both sides played really well, pitched well. Both teams had double-digit hits.
"At the end of the day, we got the big home run. That was the difference in the game."
Kingston, speaking during the SEC Network broadcast, said he’s been pleased with Cortes’ recent string of at-bats.
“You can definitely tell when he’s starting to hit less lazy fly balls and more balls on-line,” Kingston said. “That home run was on-line. He’s been hitting a lot of balls at a much better angle off the bat instead of just too high. He’s hit the ball hard all year, but now we’re just definitely starting to hit more balls that can turn into hits and production.”
The Cortes homer came against Arkansas reliever Barrett Loseke. Right-hander Blaine Knight, the Razorbacks’ ace and likely high draft pick in June, exited after 70 pitches in four innings, his shortest outing of the season. Knight entered with a 6-0 record and 1.95 ERA. He allowed one run – on Hunter Taylor’s RBI double in the second inning – on six hits.
South Carolina freshman righty Logan Chapman, making his SEC debut, started and allowed two runs on seven hits in four innings. He struck out two batters and walked two.
“He did a good job,” Kingston said. “Obviously this is a tough environment to pitch in. A freshman making his first SEC start, I was really impressed with his poise. His command was pretty good. We made some really nice plays behind him. So all in all, I think a good first SEC start.”
Arkansas, facing three USC pitchers, left an eye-opening 12 runners on base. The Razorbacks, which entered second in the SEC in runs scored, went 0-for-4 with the bases loaded, including a 3-2-3 double play to end the fourth inning. It was one of the Gamecocks' three turned double plays.
Carolina’s Eddy Demurias entered for Sawyer Bridges in the seventh. After allowing a two-out single to load the bases, Demurias got Grant Koch to ground out to second, protecting USC’s 3-2 lead.
"Sometimes you just need your pitchers to get out of those big jams," Kingston said. "Arkansas did a really good job all night taking good at-bats. Our pitchers were just able to make big pitches."
Game two is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. as Carolina ace Adam Hill (3-3, 4.79 ERA) will face Kacey Murphy (3-2, 2.25). It will stream on SEC Network Plus via the WatchESPN app.