March 29, 2014 COLUMBIA, S.C. – Grayson Greiner’s walk-off grand slam capped a six-run bottom of the ninth inning as second ranked South Carolina rallied from three runs down with two outs and no runners on base to defeat 20th ranked Tennessee 9-6 for a second consecutive walk-off win on the afternoon. The Gamecocks are 23-3 and 5-3 in the SEC with the Volunteers now 19-6 and 3-5 in league play.
Trailing 6-3 and down to its final at-bat the Gamecocks made their final rally push as pinch hitter Brison Celek kept the inning alive with a base hit to center field. The rally then continued with Max Schrock as the sophomore drove a 1-1 pitch to right field from reliever Josh Peterson just fair of the foul pole in right field for a home run cutting the deficit to one run. After the Volunteers made a change to left-hander Drake Owenby, the Gamecocks stayed alive as a fly ball off the bat of Joey Pankake was mishandled by right fielder Scott Price putting the tying run on second base. Kyle Martin drew a walk and Connor Bright was hit on a 2-2 pitch from Owenby to load the bases and set the stage for Greiner. Tennessee would make one more change as right-hander Peter Lenstrom entered from the bullpen. On a 1-0 pitch, Greiner belted the game-winning homer to left field setting off a frenzy in Carolina Stadium. It was Greiner’s fourth home run of the season.
South Carolina freshman right-hander earned the win in relief with six innings of scoreless relief to keep Carolina in the game. He allowed just four hits and two walks while striking out three batters. He is 1-0 on the year. Owenby suffered the loss and is now 2-1 for the season.
South Carolina had 11 hits to Tennessee’s eight. Greiner went 3-for-5 with five RBI with Pankake and Martin both with two hits. Pankake owns a 14-game hitting streak. Johnny Youngblood was 3-for-4 for Tennessee with Taylor Smart adding two hits and two runs scored.
“Obviously it was a special day for us,” said South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook. “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.”
Tennessee opened up a 4-0 lead in the second inning. Nick Senzel drew a leadoff walk and after a sacrifice bunt scored on Taylor Smart’s one-out double down the left field line. Nathaniel Maggio followed with a RBI single as he poked a base hit just over the head of Gamecock third baseman Joey Pankake. After a double by David Houser put runners on second and third, Tennessee would score both runners on a bunt for a base hit by Johnny Youngblood and a sac fly by Scott Price.
The Volunteers added a pair of unearned runs in the fourth inning. Smart walked to open the frame and reached second on a throwing error by first baseman Kyle Martin. With one out and runners on first and second, Youngblood reached base with his second straight bunt for a base hit. Smart scored on Scott Price’s RBI single and A.J. Simcox drove in Maggio to give the Volunteers a 6-0 lead.
Carolina got on the scoreboard with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Pankake extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a base hit to open the frame. With two outs and Pankake on third base, Grayson Greiner belted a base hit into right field scoring Pankake.
The Gamecocks took advantage of a Tennessee error to cut the deficit to 6-3 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Peter Mooney led off with a single and Jordan Gore reached base on a dropped fly ball by Scott Price. With the bases loaded and one out, Pankake drove in Mooney with sacrifice fly. Martin added a two-out RBI single.
Sunday’s series finale is set for 1:30 p.m. The game can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.