Trailing 4-1 going into the bottom of the ninth with two outs, No. 1 South Carolina used an RBI single from Connor Bright and 2-run pinch-hit home run from Max Schrock to tie the game in dramatic fashion then an RBI single from Brison Celek in the bottom of the 10th to win in it, defeating No. 21 Ole Miss 5-4 and evening the three-game series at one apiece.
The Rebels (17-3, 1-1) jumped on USC starter Jack Wynkoop early, knocking him from the game after three innings in which he surrendered four runs and seven hits. Meanwhile, Ole Miss pitchers were combining to hold USC to run run over 13 innings dating back to Friday night going into the bottom of the ninth, when the Gamecocks summoned a little magic from the bench.
After DC Arendas popped up to the shortstop to lead off the inning, Marcus Mooney drilled a line-drive single into center field. He was erased at second on a fielder's choice from Tanner English, but Ole Miss shortstop Errol Robinson, who had several superb defensive plays on the day, threw wildly to first trying to complete what would have been the game-ending double play. The throw went into the dugout and English advanced to second on the error.
With two away and English at second, Connor Bright delivered a long RBI single that bounced to the wall in right field to make it 4-2 with two away. With Elliott Caldwell 2-4 on the day, head coach Chad Holbrook decided to pinch hit, bringing in Max Schrock, who wasn't scheduled to play today after aggravating his ankle injury in Friday night's game and who didn't even take batting practice before the game.
Limping to the plate a la Kirk Gibson, Schrock sent the crowd of 7,835 into a frenzy by crushing the third pitch he saw from Ole Miss reliever Josh Laxer over the wall in right onto the concourse to tie the game at 4 before Kyle Martin grounded out to first to end the inning.
Ole Miss threatened immediately in the 10th off reliever Joel Seddon, who allowed his first and second hits of the season after getting a grounder to third to start the inning that put runners at the corners with one out. A visit to the mound from USC pitching coach Jerry Meyers settled Seddon down, and he struck out the next two batters to keep the Gamecocks in it.
Grayson Greiner led off the bottom of the 10th with a clean single to right center, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter Jordan Gore. Holbrook then pinch-hit Brison Celek for DC Arendas, who was 0-4 with three strikeouts on the day. Facing reliever Aaron Greenwood, Celek stung the third pitch he saw into right field that bounced to the wall, allowing Greiner to score with ease and the crowd to erupt once more as the Gamecocks avoided going 0-2 in the SEC and set the stage for the rubber match set to begin at 6:45 p.m.
Beyond the heroics at the plate, the story on the mound for the Gamecocks was reliever Reed Scott. The right-handed redshirt freshman from Roswell, Ga., came in to spell Wynkoop in the fourth and pitched six scoreless innings, at one point retiring 12 straight batters.
Before Schrock could play the hero role in the ninth, Scott had to battle out of danger in the top of the eighth. Having allowed no hits in five innings, Ole Miss got a single, strikeout and single to put runners at the corners with one away and threatening to add insurance to its 4-1 lead. Scott got a grounder to third from designated hitter Brantley Bell that Joey Pankake threw home to erase the runner for the second out. With Will Allen at second, Preston Overby hit a hard single to left and Allen rounded third with a good head of steam. The throw from Caldwell was dead on target and was gloved by Greiner at home just as Allen arrived for the third out in a play reminiscent of the throw Jake Williams made in the 2011 College World Series.
The Gamecocks improved to 17-1, 1-1. Wil Crowe is scheduled to take the mound in Game 2.