S. Carolina’s streak ends in loss to Hogs

Published 8:51 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2012

South Carolina’s record NCAA tournament winning streak is over. The Gamecocks’ quest for a third straight national championship is not.

Ryne Stanek and Barrett Astin combined on a four-hitter, and Arkansas beat South Carolina 2-1 at the College World Series on Monday night. It was the Gamecocks’ first loss in the national tournament in 23 games.

“It was a great run,” South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. “These guys, some are still here, and the guys that had come before, it’s one of those things that you don’t know if it could happen or if it will ever happen again. It’s been a pretty good run. I’m proud of what these guys did and how they battled. But Arkansas tonight was a better team.”

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The Gamecocks (46-18) hadn’t lost in the national tournament since their 2010 CWS opener. They will have to beat Kent State on Wednesday to keep alive their hopes of winning a third straight national title. They would also have to beat Arkansas two more times to return to the championship round.

The Razorbacks (46-20) earned two days off and need one more win to go to the best-of-three finals. “There are only six teams left, so everybody’s pretty good and you just hope you can have a good game,” Tanner said.

Matt Vinson’s RBI single in the fourth inning gave Arkansas a 2-0 lead. Evan Marzilli’s two-out triple pulled the Gamecocks within a run in the fifth, but they got just one hit the rest of the way.

Stanek (8-4) allowed three hits and turned the game over in the seventh inning to Astin, who earned his 11th save.

South Carolina’s Colby Holmes (7-2) allowed two runs and four hits in 3 2-3 innings. Tyler Webb shut down Arkansas on two hits over a season-high 5 1-3 innings, but his teammates couldn’t get much going against the hottest pitching staff in the nation.

“I thought our guys battled hard up there,” Tanner said. “But their stuff was very special, at least from my vantage point. Tyler pitched his rear end off and gave us a chance to maybe get something going, but we just weren’t able to punch in any runs.”

Arkansas pitchers have allowed just two runs over their last 32 1-3 innings. The Hogs have an ERA of 1.75 in eight NCAA tournament games.