COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Sophomore catcher John Jones hit his team-leading fifth home run of the season and freshman right-hander Braden Webb tied a career-high with seven strikeouts in his longest outing of the season as 12th ranked South Carolina defeated 13th ranked Arkansas 6-2 on Saturday afternoon at Founders Park to clinch the weekend series. The Gamecocks are 19-2 and 2-0 in the SEC with Arkansas 15-5 and 0-2 in league play.
Webb went 6.1 innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits to improve to 4-1 on the year. Sophomore right-hander Tyler Johnson pitched 2.2 scoreless innings of relief with two strikeouts to pick up his first career save. Arkansas reliever James Teague suffered the loss and is now 2-2 on the year. He allowed four runs on four hits in 3.1 innings.
Carolina broke ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Gene Cone led off with an infield single, LT Tolbert walked and Alex Destino singled to left field to load the bases. Cone would score on a walk issued to Dom Thompson-Williams and Tolbert came across home plate on Jonah Bride's RBI groundout to second base.
Arkansas answered with a pair of runs in top of the second inning to tie the game. Luke Bonfield led off with a single to right field. After Chas Spanberger reached base on a two-out walk, Michael Bernal singled to right field to score Bonfield. On the play, right fielder Gene Cone attempted to nab Spanberger at third but threw low and past Jonah Bride, allowing Spanberger to score.
It would remain that way until the fifth inning. With one out freshman LT Tolbert was hit in the helmet on the first pitch he saw. After taking first base, John Jones would come up with a big hit as he launched a 2-0 pitch over the right field wall to give the Gamecocks a 4-2 lead.
Carolina added some insurance in the bottom of the eighth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Marcus Mooney knocked a RBI single up the middle to score two runs and increase the lead to 6-2. Johnson worked a scoreless ninth to seal the win.
Jones' two-run homer in the fifth inning gave the Gamecocks the lead for good.
All nine Gamecocks in the starting lineup reached base at least once in the game.
Alex Destino's first inning single extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Junior outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams has reached base in all 21 games this season. South Carolina is 14-0 on the year when out-hitting its opponent. The Gamecocks are 12-0 on the year when hitting at least one home run and 15-0 when scoring first in a game.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook Braden (Webb) and Tyler (Johnson) were terrific today. We played good defense for the most part. It was a great game for us. My kids displayed some toughness, some resiliency, some want-to. It was a team win for us, big swing of the bat by (John Jones in the fifth inning). A big SEC win for us, we'll come back tomorrow and see if we can play our best game of the weekend
South Carolina and Arkansas close out the three-game series on Sunday afternoon with first pitch set for 1:30 p.m. at Founders Park. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network Plus and can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, "The Game."