Fayetteville, AR (UofA) - Playing in its third doubleheader of the season, No. 2 Arkansas didn’t need to outslug South Carolina on Saturday as it was the pitching staff that shined, allowing no runs and just four hits over the two-game day, helping to sweep the twin bill, 2-0 and 3-0, earning the series win over the Gamecocks.
Due to the strong storms that moved through the area on Friday, both games of today’s doubleheader were forced to be just seven innings long.
Starting pitchers Kacey Murphy and Isaiah Campbell were practically untouchable in their respective games, combining for 11 shutout innings and just three hits allowed with one walk. Murphy took a perfect game into the top of the seventh before giving up a lead-off single to Justin Row. He earned his fifth win of the year and it was his fifth outing of six or more innings.
Campbell, who has been trying to work his way back from an arm injury that forced him to miss the Ole Miss series, had his best outing in three weeks, going five innings with only two hits allowed. He only struck out one, but only walked one also, throwing 66 pitches on the day. The win moves Campbell’s record to 3-3.
Saturday’s doubleheader sweep gave the Razorbacks their third conference series win of the year and improves their SEC record to 10-5, which leads the western division. Saturday’s DH sweep was also the first time an Arkansas team shutout a conference opponent twice on the same day since April 7, 1984 when Arkansas beat Texas A&M, 1-0 and 4-0.
Game 1 | Arkansas 2, South Carolina 0 (Box Score)
Coming off a 3-2 loss on Thursday, Arkansas needed to get the bats going early Saturday in hopes of evening the series up with the Gamecocks. The Hogs got that early run from Carson Shaddy in the second inning when he smacked a 2-0 fastball to left-center for his eighth home run of the year, giving his team a 1-0 lead.
Shaddy hadn’t homered since March 29, but came through in a big way to get on top of South Carolina starter Adam Hill early. The redshirt senior has nine hits in his last eight games and homered again in the second game of the doubleheader Saturday to earn himself the team lead with nine home runs on the year.
On the mound, Murphy continued to deal through the early innings, striking out four batters in the first three innings and inducing four fly outs over that same stretch. Murphy went on to strike out two more batters before giving up the single to Row to start the seventh.
Including his six scoreless innings from Saturday, Murphy has thrown nine scoreless frames going back to his final three innings against Auburn last week. In those nine innings, the junior has struck out seven and allowed just two hits.
Along with Shaddy, Dominic Fletcher, Casey Martin, and Jordan McFarland all added one hit in the game. The Hogs were able to add their only other run in the game in the sixth inning when Shaddy scored on a wild pitch from John Gilreath.
Game 2 | Arkansas 3, South Carolina 0 (Box Score)
Much like the first game of the day, Arkansas’ starting pitcher did the heavy lifting. Campbell shut down South Carolina’s bats, giving up just three hits over five scoreless innings.
An RBI single in the first from Heston Kjerstad got the Hogs going again with the early lead. Kjerstad finished the game 1-for-3. With little action from the bats until the sixth, Shaddy crushed a two-run home run to left field, his second homer of the day, giving the Razorbacks the insurance they needed.
Sophomore Matt Cronin closed out both games of the doubleheader Saturday, giving him nine saves on the year and good for a tie for first in the SEC. Cronin has earned saves in four-straight appearances and his three innings of work on Saturday drops his ERA to 2.05, while opposing batters are hitting just .129 against him.
“He just attacks you with a fastball, that’s both sides of the plate, up, in, down. He just moves it around, he can locate it. Now we’re starting to use his breaking ball a bit more, we’re showing it. We actually tried to finish a couple of hitters with it. He just hasn’t really allowed people to get on. We’ve brought him with runners on, he seems to be able to get out of the jam. When we’ve let him start an inning, he hasn’t let too many guys get on base. He attacks you.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Matt Cronin’s success
“It was really important for us to come back and win this series. We knew we couldn’t do that without winning game one today. We had a team breakfast at 8 a.m. Got them up early, got them here. They had a great attitude. Both teams had to play in that wind and that temperature out there. I was proud of them.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on bouncing back after losing the first game of the series on Thursday
“That’s a good spot to be, especially this year, with as good as the league is. You just feel like everyone’s going to kind of beat each other up a little bit. If you have a bad weekend, find a way to win one and if you have a chance to sweep someone you get that sweep. For us to bounce back and get to 10-5 after losing a couple series on the road, it was big.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on leading the SEC Western Division at the midway point
“I had a lot of layers on, some thick gloves. Between innings, I would go into the tunnel and do some squats and stuff. Just kind of do some air throws, get some blood into my arm. It kept me warm.” – Matt Cronin on staying warm all day during a doubleheader
“I think that we were really angry from two days ago that we lost that game. I think a lot of us thought we were right there, about to take it from them and we feel like we’re a better team than them. I don’t think there was pressure, just anger to come out and do what we were supposed to do.” – Carson Shaddy on sweeping the doubleheader after losing game one on Thursday
Arkansas stays home for its next game when it hosts Missouri State for a single midweek game on Tuesday at Baum Stadium. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. The game between the Bears and Hogs will close out a 10-game homestand, which includes last Tuesday’s game against Grambling State in North Little Rock, Arkansas.