Joey Pankake led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk-off homer to left-center to lift eighth ranked South Carolina to a 6-5 win over The Citadel on Tuesday night at Carolina Stadium. The win improves Carolina to 27-7 with The Citadel dropping to 17-17 for the season.
Pankake's homer was his sixth of the season. After The Citadel rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game, Pankake quickly responded for the Gamecocks as he launched a 1-0 pitch to left-center from Bulldog right-hander David Rivera to set off the celebration.
Right-hander Curt Britt earned the win and is now 2-0 on the year after 0.1 innings of work allowing just one hit. Rivera suffered the loss and is 4-1 on the year. He allowed one run on two hits in 1.1 inning with no walks and a strikeout.
The Citadel grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Mason Davis led off with a single and stole second base. After a groundout, Joe Jackson would walk to give the Bulldogs a pair of runners. On Seddon's 1-0 pitch, Bo Thompson knocked a RBI double past Gamecock third baseman Chase Vergason and down the left field line to score both runners.
South Carolina tied it at 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Dante Rosenberg led off the inning with a home run, his first career homer as a Gamecock. The Gamecock catcher knocked the first pitch he saw from Austin Livingston over the wall in left field. The inning continued with Tanner English reaching base on an infield single as he beat out the throw to first by the shortstop. A failed pickoff attempt moved English over to second base. After a deep flyout to center by Saiko advanced English to third base, Carolina would tie it on Vergason's sacrifice fly to center.
The Gamecocks took a three-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. Vergason would jumpstart the inning with a one-out base hit. With two outs, LB Dantzler drew a walk to put a pair of runners on base. The chess match then began as the Gamecocks sent up pinch hitter Kyle Martin. With Martin being a left-handed bat, The Citadel went to the pen for left-hander James Reeves. One more time, Carolina countered, as Brison Celek entered for Martin to give the Gamecocks a right-handed bat. On a 1-0 pitch, Celek delivered with a RBI single up the middle scoring Vergason. After a Connor Bright hit loaded the bases, Grayson Greiner drove in a pair of runs with a double.
The Citadel didn't waver though and scored three times to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the ninth inning. Hughtson Armstrong reached base with a one-out base hit. A single by Joe Jackson followed to bring the tying run to the plate. The Gamecocks would bring in right-hander Evan Beal, who got the second out of the inning as he coaxed Thompson into a popup. However, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with a base hit by Jason Smith. A walk to Drew DeKerlegand allowed Armstrong to score and cut Carolina's lead to a pair of runs. With Britt on in relief, Johnathan Stokes laced a two-run single into left field to tie the game. Britt worked out of the inning recording the third out on a popup by Brett Bullard.
South Carolina finished with 13 hits while The Citadel tallied 11 for the game. Bright went 3-for-4 with Pankake, Greiner, Rosenberg and English all with two apiece. Joe Jackson was 3-for-4 with Davis and Stokes each recording two hits for The Citadel.
South Carolina heads back on the road for a three-game SEC series at Florida. First pitch for the opener on Thursday is 7:30 p.m. with the game televised on ESPNU. Friday's contest is also 7:30 p.m. on CSS with Saturday's series finale at 3 p.m. on ESPN2. All three games can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network from IMG College including flagship station, 107.5 FM, "The Game."