No. 8 Gamecocks rally in ninth inning to defeat No. 9 Commodores 4-3
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A two-out single by Max Schrock in the top of the ninth inning and a one-out solo homer by Joey Pankake in the top of the 10th helped lift eighth-ranked South Carolina to a 4-3 come-from-behind win against ninth-ranked Vanderbilt on Thursday evening in the first game of a three-game SEC baseball series at Hawkins Field. The Gamecocks improve to 41-13, 17-11 in the SEC with Vanderbilt now 39-15 and 16-12 in league play.
Trailing 3-2 entering the top of the ninth inning, the Gamecocks mounted a rally as Gene Cone led off with a walk. A sac bunt by Jordan Gore would move Cone into scoring position. With two outs and Schrock at the plate, the sophomore second baseman knocked a RBI single into right field to tie the game up. Joel Seddon entered in the bottom of the ninth and Vanderbilt threatened to end the game as John Norwood singled and Rhett Wiseman walked to open the frame. With one out and runners still on first and second base, Ro Coleman knocked a base hit up the middle. Vanderbilt looked to score as Wiseman was sent around third towards home but a perfect throw by center fielder Tanner English kept the winning run from scoring. Seddon got out of the inning with a flyout by Dansby Swanson. Riding the momentum from that frame, Pankake would deliver in the 10th as he blasted a 0-1 pitch from Brian Miller for a solo homer to left-center for his 5th homer of the year to give Carolina a one-run advantage. Vanderbilt would threaten one more time in the bottom of the 10th as Xavier Turner drew a leadoff walk. A sac bunt moved him into scoring position but Seddon dug deep and struck out Zander Wiel and induced Vince Conde into a groundout to second preserving the Gamecock victory. The win was South Carolina's fifth of the season when trailing entering the ninth inning.
"First pitch (Miller) got in on me, Joey Pankake said. "He is really good and really tough to hit, throws a lot of strikes. I got the pitch I was looking for and I was fortunate enough to put a good swing on it that barely cleared the fence, but I'll take it."
Seddon pitched two scoreless innings of relief to earn the win. He is now 3-1 on the year. Miller suffered the loss and is 1-1 on the year. He allowed a run on two hits in 1.2 innings of work.
"That was a great college baseball game," South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook said. "Our kids battled and competed until the last pitch, their kids did too. We made some great plays, they made some great plays. Tanner (English) made an unbelievable throw to save the game and Max with a hurt back (before that), barely can walk gets the game-tying hit with two outs and two strikes. Incredible baseball game to be a part of and our guys found a way to win."
Both team starting pitchers were effective for both teams. Junior left-hander Jordan Montgomery worked seven innings and allowed three runs on eight hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. Junior right-hander Tyler Beede went 8.1 innings for Vanderbilt and allowed three runs on six hits with four walks and six strikeouts.
Vanderbilt would manufacture a run to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Wiel drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on Conde's RBI base hit up the middle.
South Carolina answered though in the top of the fifth with a pair of runs to take a 2-1 lead. Marcus Mooney was hit by Beede's first pitch of the inning and Schrock singled to give the Gamecocks a pair of runners. A sac bunt by Kyle Martin and an intentional walk to Grayson Greiner loaded the bases with one out. That set the stage for Pankake, who belted a 0-1 pitch into left field for a RBI single to tie the game up. DC Arendas followed with a RBI groundout scoring Schrock and giving the Gamecocks a one-run advantage.
Vanderbilt regained the lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Bryan Reynolds bounced a single into left field with one out and scored on Wiel's RBI double into the gap in left-center. After Wiel stole third base, Conde lifted a sac fly into center to put Vanderbilt ahead 3-2.
Pankake and Schrock were each 2-for-5 to lead the Gamecocks at the plate. Turner, Wiel and Coleman had two hits apiece to lead Vanderbilt.
The series continues on Friday with first pitch at 7:30 p.m. ET.