The South Carolina Gamecocks baseball team is now entering the second half of their season which promises to present tough challenge after tough challenge each weekend as SEC play heats up. The team entered this past weekend with a 21-3 record, and after sweeping the #20 Tennessee Volunteers and beating Appalachian State this week, the Gamecocks are now 25-3 on the season and ranked #2 in the nation according to Baseball America.
The Gamecocks certainly had a flair for the dramatics this week, with two walk-off HRs against the Vols, and another walk-off hit against Appalachian State this past Tuesday. Friday night’s game against the Vols was postponed in the 12th inning because of rain, and resumed Saturday before the two teams played game two of the three game series. Tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 14th, an unlikely hero, Freshman INF Jordan Gore, stepped to the plate and went yard over the right field wall to give the Gamecocks a 3-2 victory.
Game 2 of the day saw a more familiar face come up clutch once again for the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks were down to their last out with no runners on, trailing the Vols 6-3 in the bottom of the 9th. After a Brison Celek base hit, Sophmore 2B Max Schrock hit a 2-run-HR to cut the deficit to 6-5. Still down to their last out, Joey Pankake stepped to the plate and hit a fly ball to right field that should have ended the game, but Vols right fielder Scott Price misplayed the ball and Pankake ended up on second base. Kyle Martin then walked, and Connor Bright was hit by a pitch to load the bases and set the table for Junior catcher Grayson Greiner. On a 1-0 pitch, Greiner didn’t miss, as he crushed the ball over the left field fence and sent Carolina Stadium into a frenzy. The walk-off Grand Slam capped a six-run ninth inning and earned the Gamecocks a 9-6 win. It was quite a day for the Gamecocks, with two walk-off HRs. The flair for the dramatics even earned the team a spot in SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays. After the game, Head Coach Chad Holbrook acknowledged the team’s fight.
“Obviously it was a special day for us. I can’t sit here and tell you I’ve ever seen anything like that. I coach some guys who believe in themselves. (They) keep plugging, keep playing, keep working and they try to put themselves into position to be able to win games like that. I told them after the game, games like that and occurrences like that don’t happen if you don’t believe. I’ve been in dugouts where teams don’t believe. That happened today because we have a group of players who believe.” – Head Coach Chad Holbrook via GamecocksOnline
The Gamecocks completed the sweep of the Vols on Sunday in a little less of dramatic fashion with an 8-0 shutout. The shutout was the Gamecocks 11th of the season. Freshman SP Wil Crowe was spectacular once again, throwing 7 1/3 shutout innings. Crowe is now 6-0 on the season with a 1.37 ERA and has arguably been the Gamecocks best pitcher.
This past Tuesday, the Gamecocks hosted 8-16 Appalachian State in what figured to be an easy contest for the Gamecocks. It was anything but that. Head Coach Chad Holbrook did not start Grayson Greiner in order to allow him to rest his sore thumb, but Greiner would factor into the game in a big way later on. Junior SP Evan Beal got his second start of the season and tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings. The Gamecocks and Mountaineers were tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th when Connor Bright led off the frame with a single and then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jordan Gore. Then, with one out, that familiar face of Grayson Greiner stepped to the plate once again to pinch-hit. On a 3-2 pitch, he hammered the ball to left field, scoring Bright and giving the Gamecocks their third walk-off victory over a span of four days, this time at the hands of Appalachian State 2-1.
It was quite a week for Greiner and the Gamecocks, earning four victories and upping their record to an impressive 25-3 on the season. The team is 22-1 at Carolina Stadium. South Carolina starts a three game series in Fayetteville against the Arkansas Razorbacks today as they resume SEC play. The #2 Gamecocks are currently tied with Florida atop the SEC East with a 6-3 record. Arkansas (18-11) is tied for second to last in the SEC West with a 4-5 record.