Cole Messina drives in 5, including go-ahead home run in 9th, and South Carolina tops Arkansas 6-5

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Cole Messina belted a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning and South Carolina held on to defeat Arkansas 6-5 on Wednesday, the first day of double-elimination play at the SEC Tournament.

Messina went 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBIs. He drove in a run with a third-inning single and his two-run home run in the fifth gave South Carolina a 4-2 lead.

No. 10 seed South Carolina (36-21) advances to play No. 11 LSU on Thursday. Second-seeded Arkansas (43-14) drops to the loser's bracket and will face third-seeded Kentucky, also on Thursday.

South Carolina led 4-2 through six innings before Arkansas tied it in the bottom of the seventh. Peyton Stovall drove in one run with a double, then a sacrifice fly by Ben McLaughlin tied it at 4.

In the top of the ninth, Blake Jackson was hit by a pitch, then Messina blasted the first pitch deep to center field for a 6-4 lead.

Arkansas rallied in the bottom of the inning, McLaughlin driving in a run with a single to left-center field. With runners on first and third, South Carolina reliever Garrett Gainey (1-3) got Jared Sprague-Lott to fly out to center for the third out.

Gainey pitched three innings in relief, allowing four hits and one run.

Gabe Gaeckle (3-3) pitched two innings, allowing three hits that included Messina's decisive home run.

South Carolina is 2-0 in the tournament for the first time in 20 years.


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