June 24, 2012 at 3:01 AM CDT - Updated June 27 at 8:56 AM
OMAHA, Neb. (U of A) – The University of Arkansas baseball team dropped a 3-2 decision to the South Carolina at the College World Series on Friday night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha to finish third nationally.
The Razorbacks (46-22) finish tied for third in the nation for the second time in the last four years while South Carolina (49-18) advances to a best-of-three series against Arizona which begins on Sunday.
Arkansas seniors Bo Bigham and Tim Carver ended their Razorback careers with a fight, going a combined 3-for-7 in the game with a walk and run scored. The seniors accounted for three of Arkansas' six hits in the game. Bigham also made a highlight diving grab on a line drive early in the contest, which was the No. 2 play on Sportscenter's top 10 plays.
Matt Reynolds drove in both runs for the Razorbacks and finished the game going 1-for-3. Brian Anderson and Matt Vinson also had a hit for Arkansas.
Joey Pankake went 2-for-3 with a RBI and a run scored, while Christian Walker had a hit and a RBI. Adam Matthews also drove in a run.
South Carolina reliever Matt Price (5-4) earned the win with three scoreless innings of work.
Arkansas reliever Colby Suggs (7-1) took the loss. Suggs allowed a run and had a strikeout in two innings.
Each starter received a no decision as Arkansas starter DJ Baxendale worked 4.1 innings, giving up two runs with two strikeouts, while South Carolina starter Colby Holmes lasted only two innings and allowed two runs on three hits.
Barrett Astin and Trent Daniel each turned in a scoreless outing in relief. Astin struck out one in 1.1 scoreless innings, while Daniel retired the only batter he faced.
The game capped an impressive postseason performance by the Razorback pitching staff. In 10 NCAA Tournament games, Arkansas pitchers combined for a 1.92 team ERA. The Razorback bullpen was even better, compiling a 1.30 ERA. Razorback relievers had a streak of 26 consecutive innings without allowing a run until a run scored on a bases loaded walk in the seventh.
For the season, the Arkansas pitching staff had a team ERA of 2.83, which ranks as the second-lowest single-season team ERA in school history.
Arkansas drew first blood, scoring once in the top of the first. Carver swung at the game's first pitch and chopped a single over the third baseman's head. A sacrifice bunt by Jacob Mahan advanced Carver to second. Reynolds then lined a single to left, scoring Carver from second base to give the Razorbacks the lead.
South Carolina had a scoring chance in the bottom of the first. With one out, Evan Marzilli walked and then advanced to third on a single to center field by Walker. A walk to LB Dantzler loaded the bases with one out. Baxendale worked out of trouble as he got Matthews to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.
The Razorbacks tacked on another run in the top of the third. Jake Wise was hit by a pitch to begin the inning and a double to right-center by Carver off the glove of Marzilli put runners on second and third. After a groundout to third by Mahan, Reynolds drove in his second run of the game with a sacrifice fly to right on a nice sliding catch by Matthews.
Arkansas had a chance to add on to the lead in the fourth, but came up empty. Bigham walked to begin the inning and advanced to second after a sacrifice bunt by Joe Serrano. Vinson then singled to right to advance Bigham to third. After a strikeout of Wise, Vinson stole second to put two runners in scoring position. Carver flied out to right to end the inning and keep the score at 2-0.
South Carolina tied the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Tanner English led off the inning with a single and then stole second with one out. A walk to Chase Vergason put runners on first and second with one out. Pankake then singled to center to drive home English, who slid home just ahead of the tag by Wise after a great throw from center field by Vinson. A walk to Marzilli loaded the bases. Walker then drew a bases loaded walk to tie the game. The Razorbacks were able to avoid further trouble as Daniel got Dantzler to foul out to third and Suggs stuck out Matthews to end the inning.
The Gamecocks took the lead with a run in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Pankake walked and moved to second on a passed ball. A walk to Marzilli put runners on first and second with one out. After an infield fly out by Walker, Dantzler reached on an infield single to load the bases. Matthews then drew a bases loaded walk to put South Carolina in front.
Arkansas would get a base runner in the eighth on a two-out single by Anderson, but that was the last Razorback that would reach base as South Carolina held on for the 3-2 win.