Hogs will play SC again after 2-0 loss on 3-hitter
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Arkansas' opportunity to play for its first baseball national championship comes down to one more game against Southeastern Conference rival South Carolina.
Gamecocks freshman Jordan Montgomery and Matt Price combined on a three-hitter Thursday night, lifting the two-time defending national champions to a 2-0 victory at the College World Series.
The winner of the teams' third meeting in five days moves to the best-of-three finals against Arizona starting Sunday.
DJ Baxendale (8-5), who won the Hogs' CWS opener against Kent State, will start. South Carolina coach Ray Tanner was undecided on his starter.
"Tomorrow we want to come out and have a shot to play for the national championship,'' center fielder Matt Vinson said. "I felt our team came out a little flat today. We'll come out with more excitement tomorrow and play with more energy.''
Relief pitcher Brandon Moore said, "It's win or go home. But it's no different than any other game. We have to come out and play with energy. We'll come out a lot more intense tomorrow.''
The Gamecocks (48-18) has staved off elimination twice since Arkansas (48-18) beat them 2-1 on Monday, snapping their record 22-game winning streak in the NCAA tournament.
Michael Roth of the Gamecocks threw a two-hitter against Kent State earlier Thursday to keep his team's hopes alive.
Then Montgomery shut down the Hogs with some help from Price, who pitched the ninth inning for his 13th save.
The Gamecocks' runs came in the second inning on Tanner English's double and Chase Vergason's single.
Montgomery (6-1) struck out six and walked one in his first outing since June 3.
South Carolina is the third team in the 63-year history of the CWS to win two full games in the same day. The last to do it was Holy Cross in 1952, when it beat Western Michigan and Penn State en route to the title. Tennessee won two in a day in 1951.
South Carolina pitchers faced 57 batters in Thursday's two games - three over the minimum.
Roth came up big after Wednesday night's elimination game against Kent State was postponed because of rain. Tanner decided to start Roth because the rainout gave the staff ace a fourth day of rest.
Montgomery, who had been the scheduled starter on Wednesday, was quite efficient when his turn came up against the Razorbacks. He threw 89 pitches, 52 for strikes, before giving way to Price to start the ninth.
Three of Arkansas' four batters to reach base against Montgomery were erased. Joe Serrano was caught stealing in the first, Bo Bigham was thrown out at third in the fifth and Vinson was doubled off first on a line drive to shortstop in the sixth.
Arkansas had handed Montgomery his only loss of the season last month. He was tagged for nine hits and five runs in 5 1-3 innings that night.
Three singles, a walk and a hit batsman were all the Hogs could muster against him Thursday.
Arkansas' staff came into the game having allowed just two runs over its previous 32 1-3 innings.
Randall Fant (2-3) lasted only 1 1-3 innings, allowing four hits and getting charged for both runs. Brandon Moore pitched 5 2-3 innings of two-hit relief, but his effort went unrewarded because the Hogs couldn't crack Montgomery.
Arkansas might have cost itself a run in the sixth when Bigham tried to go from first to third on Derrick Bleeker's hit to left. English threw him out to end the inning.
South Carolina has allowed four runs or fewer in all eight of its NCAA tournament games this season.
The Gamecocks have allowed four runs or fewer in 18 consecutive CWS games since 2004.
Canadiens put together big comeback to beat Senators 5-4 in OT
Bruins get their eighth straight victory with win over Hurricanes