March 29, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The No. 2 South Carolina Gamecocks scored six runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to complete a six-run comeback and defeat No. 21 Tennessee, 9-6, in game two of the series on Saturday at Carolina Stadium.
South Carolina (23-3, 5-3) got the big hit from junior catcher Grayson Greiner, who blasted a walk-off grand slam over the left field wall with two outs. The Gamecocks also won game one of the series on a walk-off home run, as Jordan Gore sent a solo shot over the right-field fence in the bottom of the 14th to open the action on Saturday. The series opener was suspended in a 2-2 tie after 11 innings due to rain on Friday night and concluded prior to game two on Saturday.
Tennessee falls to 19-6 overall and 3-5 in league play with the losses. The Vols will look to salvage a series with a win on Sunday for the second week in a row. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET. UT will send out sophomore right-hander Andrew Lee, who's 3-0 with a 3.94 ERA this season. The Gamecocks will throw freshman righty Wil Crowe (5-0, 1.63).
"I told the team we have to get off the mat; tomorrow is a new day," said head coach Dave Serrano. "We can't afford to get swept. You come to an atmosphere like this and hopefully you can learn from a team across the field that has proven it can win at a high level. That's why this game is so beautiful; there's no time clock. You have to get the 27th out.
"I thought we played pretty well as a team. We couldn't finish the job in either game. The first game it was about not getting hits and leaving too many guys on. In the second game, it was about not being able to hold the lead - whether it was from the mound or the defensive lapses that we had."
The Vols were led by the bottom of the order in game two, as Johnny Youngblood led the way with his first-career three-hit game. Youngblood laid down three bunt singles, beating out the throw to first each time. Taylor Smart was 2-for-3 with a RBI double and has a team-high four hits in the series. Scott Price was 1-for-4 with two RBIs, and Columbia, S.C., native David Houser was 1-for-4. Houser has three hits in the series.
Freshman right-hander Hunter Martin had a good outing for the Vols, giving up just one earned run and three total runs over 5 1/3 innings.
Tennessee, one of the nation's top fielding teams this season, made three costly errors in the game, including one in the ninth inning.
A leadoff walk to Nick Senzel got the Vols going in the second inning of game two. Will Maddox - hitting in the 5-hole - laid down a sac bunt to move the freshman into scoring position. The Vols then ripped four hits in a row - a RBI double from Smart, a RBI single from Nathaniel Maggio, a double from Houser and a perfectly-placed suicide squeeze bunt by Youngblood - to take a 3-0 lead on the Gamecocks. With one down in the frame, Price then lifted a fly ball to deep right field, bringing in Houser on the sac fly to make it 4-0.
Tennessee added two unearned runs in the fourth inning on two hits and a South Carolina throwing error to extend its lead to 6-0 in the fourth. Youngblood picked up his second bunt single of the game in the frame and Price earned the RBI with a single to left center.
South Carolina cut the Vols' lead in half in the fourth and fifth innings. The Gamecocks had three singles in the fourth and two in the fifth to plate three runs and cut UT's lead to 6-3. Carolina scored one in the fourth and two in the fifth. The Vols helped the SC cause in the fifth, as Price dropped a fly ball on the right in right field.
Neither team scored in the sixth, seventh or eighth innings, and the Vols were held off the board in the ninth.
With the Vols up 6-3, relief pitcher Josh Peterson got two quick outs in the ninth, but gave up a single and a two-run homer by Max Schrock - who was hitless in his last 17 at-bats - to cut the lead to one at 6-5. Peterson was replaced by UT closer Drake Owenby. The Gamecocks benefitted from a dropped fly ball, a walk and a hit by pitch during Owenby's outing. He was replaced by Peter Lenstrohm, who gave up the walk-off grand slam on a 0-1 pitch to Greiner.
Game one was resumed prior to the start of game two on Saturday after Friday's series opener was suspended due to rain in a 2-2 tie after 11 innings. South Carolina earned the game one 3-2 win with a walk-off home run to right center by Gore in the 14th inning. It was the Vols' third 14-inning game in the past three seasons.
Tennessee left five on base in extra innings alone. Sophomore relief pitcher Trevor Bettencourt took his first loss of the season. The series opener was delayed 1-hour and 15-minutes due to rain prior to the game on Friday.
Christin Stewart got things going for the Vols in the fourth inning of game one by slapping a one-out double down the left field line. The double extended his hit streak to a team-best 11 games. That streak was stopped in the second game. Senzel - the Vols' batting average and RBI leader entering the series - bounced a slow-roller to SC's Marcus Mooney at shortstop and would beat out the play at first to put runners on the corners with one down.
Maggio followed with a hard-hit tailing ball into left field. On a full sprint in, South Carolina's Elliott Caldwell dropped the ball, allowing Stewart to cross the plate and giving the Vols a 1-0 lead. Senzel slipped rounding third base and had to go back to the bag. They play was ruled an error on Caldwell.
The Vols made some great defensive plays on the night, but the highlight came in the fourth frame. Simcox, UT's shortstop, made a diving snag on a groundball behind second base, flipped it to Maddox with his glove, and Maddox fired it over to Maggio at first base to complete the 6-4-3 double play.
Senior right-handed pitcher Nick Williams and the Vols quickly got two outs in the bottom half of the sixth. However, South Carolina's Joey Pankake would extend his hitting streak to 13 games with a two-out single into right center. Kyle Martin then roped a double all the way to the wall in the left-center gap, allowing Pankake to come home from first and tie the game at 1-1.
Tennessee re-gained its one-run lead in the eighth inning as Maddox led off the frame with a four-pitch walk. Cody Mincey came in to relieve South Carolina starter Jordan Montgomery. Mincey plunked Price on the first pitch and Simcox laid down a sac bunt to move the runners over to second and third. Stewart then a long sac fly to right field to put Tennessee back ahead by one at 2-1. Montgomery allowed just four hits and two runs with six strikeouts over seven innings of work.
Williams game up a leadoff single in the eighth inning, but would get the next two Gamecocks out before making way for sophomore southpaw Andy Cox after 7 2/3 innings. South Carolina would bring home the game-tying run on a passed ball during Cox's first batter faced. Williams allowed eight hits and two runs while striking out five. The Knoxville native did not walk a single batter in the outing. Cox kept the Gamecocks scoreless over 3 1/3 innings. He gave up four hits and struck out five in his team-leading 15th appearance.