Chris Murray: Hogs Host No. 1 Gamecocks; UCA, UALR Draw Wrong Kind of Attention


Hogs host gamecocks

The Arkansas Razorbacks face their biggest challenge – it’s also their biggest opportunity – of the 2014 college baseball season when they begin a three-game series Friday with the South Carolina Gamecocks at Baum Stadium.

The series was originally scheduled for Thursday-Saturday to accommodate ESPN’s cameras, but thunderstorms prompted a doubleheader set for Friday, with the first game starting at 3.

The Gamecocks (25-3 overall, 6-3 in the Southeastern Conference) have won seven straight games and are no. 1 in the country. Hot-hitting catcher Grayson Greiner four homers and 30 RBIs, with an OPS approaching 1.000. Veterans Tanner English and Joey Pankake help anchor a Carolina lineup with loads of experience in pressure-packed games.

South Carolina’s pitching statistics are staggering. As a team, the Gamecocks boast a 1.69 ERA, and they have eight pitchers (mostly relievers) on the staff who have yet to allow an earned run.

After winning the first game of a doubleheader Saturday against Mississippi State in Starkville, the Hogs’ offense shut down, scoring just one run in each of the final two games, both losses. That left the Hogs at 4-5 in the SEC, and in need of a series win against the vaunted Gamecocks in order to get back to .500.

Arkansas split a pair of midweek games with bunt-happy Nebraska at Baum Stadium, winning 4-3 on Tuesday, while falling 6-4 on Wednesday. The Razorbacks are 18-11 overall.

Trey Killian and Jalen Beeks are set to start today for the Hogs, with Chris Oliver slated for the finale. Beeks is coming off his best outing as a Hog, firing eight innings of shutout baseball against MSU. The South Carolina Gamecocks will start Jordan Montgomery and Jack Wynkoop today, with Wil Crowe set for Saturday. Wynkoop is 5-1 with a 2.66 ERA in seven starts, while Crowe is 6-0 with a 1.37 ERA, also in seven starts.


The biggest college baseball news of the week came out of Conway, where UALR and UCA hooked up for an old-school bench-clearing brawl on Wednesday. UCA walked off with a 5-4 victory in 11 innings, but the real highlights – which have appeared on numerous sports blogs by now – happened in the 10th inning.

After several pitchers were hit by pitches, UCA coach Allen Gum and UALR coach Scott Norwood started jawing at each other. The two got face to face, and Norwood recoiled before stumbling and falling, though it did not appear that Gum made contact with Norwood. Both dugouts emptied, and it took minutes before the umpires were able to regain control.

One can never tell exactly what leads to such a skirmish, but word has it that Gum and Norwood had butted heads earlier in their careers, when Gum was head coach at Southern Arkansas and Norwood was the same at Ouachita Baptist.

As a result, UCA suspended assistant coach Trent Kline for four games, players Brandon Montalvo and Nate Ferrell for four games each, and Matt Anderson for eight games. UALR suspended four players for four games each. Those suspended were Drew McCurry, Kilgore Gailmard, Sam Vogel and Travis McDonald.

UCA is 5-4 in the Southland Conference after dropping two of three to Stephen F. Austin last weekend in Nacogdoches, Texas. The Bears host Southeastern Louisiana for three games in Conway starting today.

UALR is struggling at 11-15, 1-8 in Sun Belt play. The Trojans host Georgia State for a weekend series. Arkansas State is sitting one game back of league-leading UL-Lafayette with a 7-2 record. The Red Wolves are 16-13 overall and have a road series with Western Kentucky this weekend.

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