David Mendham slashed a one-out double into left center field in the bottom of the 11th inning, and Jeff Heinrich raced all the way home from first with the wining run, and USC defeated Mississippi State 4-3 Sunday afternoon at Founders Park to salvage the final game of the three game series with the 4th ranked Bulldogs. The Gamecocks, who are hopeful of being one of the 20 teams announced this week as potential regional hosts, improved to 28-17 and 12-12 in the SEC. The Bulldogs are 35-11 and 16-8 in league play.
The two offensive heroes in the 11th for the Gamecocks were looking for some redemption, and they got it. Henrich hadn’t had an at-bat since the Arkansas series, and came into Sunday’s game hitting .136 in SEC play. It was his pinch-hit, one-out RBI double to right that tied the game in the bottom of the 9th. And with one out in the 11th, he singled to right to set up Mendham’s moment.
Mendham, who had started 41 of the first 43 games, primarily at first, did not play Saturday, but he was back in the lineup at DH Sunday. He slammed a two-run homer in the second to give the Gamecocks their first lead of the series, and he had the walk-off double in the 11th to give them the last lead, and their fourth walk-off win of the season.
In between Mendham’s big blows, Mississippi State took a 3-2 with a sacrifice fly in the third, and solo homers in the 5th and 6th. It stayed that way until Heinrich’s heroics in the 9th thanks to six innings of excellent relief work by Brett Kerry.
Kerry took over for Thomas Farr in the 5th after Farr had given up a leadoff home run. The Bulldogs eventually loaded the bases against Kerry with one out, but he got a foul out and a strike out to end that threat.
After yielding the 6th inning home run that made the score 3-2 Mississippi State, Kerry allowed just two hits the rest of his day. He gave way to Julian Bosnic to start the 11th. Bosnic gave up a one out walk, and then got a strike out and a ground out to end the inning.
The Gamecocks will play at Clemson Tuesday night in the makeup game from their February 26th rainout. The Gamecocks won the series’ first game at Fluor Field in Greenville in a walk-off in 11 innings 3-2, and then won game two at home in walk-off fashion 8-7.