Joey Pankake short circuited a comeback by The Citadel with a lead off home run to left centerfield in the bottom of the ninth to give USC a 6-5 victory over the Bulldogs Tuesday night at Carolina Stadium. Pankake’s big fly came on a 1-0 pitch from David Rivera and made a winner out of freshman Curt Britt (2-0) who was the sixth Gamecock pitcher. It was Pankake’s sixth homer of the season.
Not all the news was good for USC as second baseman Max Schrock was injured covering first base on a bunt in the third inning. Schrock suffered a slight concussion and a neck injury similar to whiplash according to coach Chad Holbrook. His status for the Florida series starting Thursday in Gainesville won’t be determined until a further examination Wednesday.
The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead in the first on a two run double by Bo Thompson. They blew a chance to blow the game open in the third after loading the bases with none out. Drew DeKerlegand popped up to second and Johnathan Stokes grounded to short for an inning ending double play.
The Gamecocks didn’t scratch against starter Austin Livingston until Dante Rosenberg cracked his first homer of the season in the fifth. Chase Vergason later tied the game in the fifth with a sacrifice fly.
USC took the lead in the seventh on a pinch-hit RBI single by Brison Celek. Later in the inning Grayson Greiner doubled in two runs and the Gamecocks appeared safe with a 5-2 advantage.
The Bulldogs rallied in the 9th loading the bases with two men out. Evan Beal walked DeKerlegand on four pitches to force in a run. Stokes then tied the game with a two run single off Britt. With runners on first and second, Brett Bullard popped out to the catcher to end the inning.
Pankake then delivered the victory to USC with his one swing of the bat. It’s USC’s fourth straight win and 9th in their last 10 games. They are now 27-7 while The Citadel falls to 17-17. The Gamecocks have won four in a row over the Bulldogs and eight of the last nine meetings.