If you told me Friday afternoon that Michael Roth, Jordan Montgomery, and Matt Price (at times) would struggle over the weekend, I would have said that we would lose this series. Perhaps we would be swept. After all, Roth was going up against formidable Arkansas starter Ryne Stanek. How could we win if Roth didn't hold his own? Moreover, while we were uncertain of our Sunday starter, Arkansas would be throwing red-hot DJ Baxendale. That would be another win for the Hogs right there. Throw in a bad start by Montgomery, and we'd be toast.
Yet the Gamecocks managed to get the series win over the Hogs, winning two. All three games were close, high-scoring affairs. Friday, the Gamecocks rallied after Roth got hit hard early in the game; Saturday saw several lead changes, with the Hogs taking and maintaining a late lead; and Sunday, Forrest Koumas returned to his 2011 form and dueled with Baxendale, with the Gamecocks finally getting to Baxendale late and hanging on to win, despite a shaky relief appearance from a likely tired Price. As the high scoring suggests, the Gamecocks hit the ball well against a solid Arkansas staff, coming up with 31 hits on the weekend, including quite a few extra-base hits and a handful of home runs. Some of the stars from the plate were Christian Walker, Evan Marzilli, Adam Matthews, Chase Vergason, Tanner English, and Grayson Greiner. Roth even got in on the action, with a couple of clutch hits as a pinch hitter. Matthews also deserves some credit for a couple of great throws to home that took runs away from the Hogs.
Events around the conference were also kind to the Gamecocks. Needless to say, another key series this weekend was Florida at Kentucky, and with Carolina entering the weekend up on the Gators and tied with the 'Cats in the conference standings, we wanted to see the Gators take the series and help us create some more separation. That happened, and Carolina now sits alone atop the Eastern Division with a one game lead on UK, two games on UF. We're tied with LSU for the overall league lead, but with the Tigers coming to Columbia soon, we'll have a chance to control the outcome of that race. The Gamecocks are in excellent position to get a day-one bye in the SEC Tournament, as well as to earn a national seed, which should happen regardless of whether or not we win the LSU series. The team is doing it in unconventional ways, but the end result is the same; this team is winning games at the rate you'd expect for a solid Omaha contender.