Grayson Greiner’s two-out two-run homer in the top of the 10th inning lifted 12th ranked South Carolina to a 5-3 victory over 16th ranked Mississippi State on Friday evening at Dudy Noble Field in game two of a three-game SEC series. The Gamecocks clinch the No. 4 seed at next week’s SEC Tournament and earn a bye into Wednesday night and the double elimination format in bracket two. Carolina is 39-15 and 17-11 in the SEC with Mississippi State dropping to 39-16 and 15-14 in league play.
With the score deadlocked at 3-3 and two outs in the top of the 10th inning, LB Dantzler drew a two-out walk against MSU reliever C.T. Bradford. With Greiner coming to the plate, Mississippi State went to the bullpen for right-hander Daryl Norris. On Norris’ first pitch, Greiner launched his fourth home run of the season into the left field stands to give Carolina a two-run lead. Senior left-hander Tyler Webb entered in the bottom of the 10th and worked a perfect frame with a strikeout for his 16th save to preserve the victory.
“I got it pretty good,” said Greiner. “I was sitting on a slider. I saw in warm-ups that he had a pretty good one. It was sitting right there, it felt real good when it came off (the bat). I don’t know if it is the hardest ball I have ever hit, but it felt good.”
Senior left-hander Adam Westmoreland earned the win and is 7-1 on the year. He worked two scoreless innings and allowed just one hit and one walk with two strikeouts. Bradford suffered the loss and is 1-1 on the year.
Greiner was 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI. Alex Detz went 4-for-4 to lead Mississippi State with Adam Frazier and Brett Pirtle tallying two hits apiece as well.
“We have some older guys out there that have been through the ringers of this league,” said South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook. “I’m proud with the way they have handled adversity (in this series). It’s a tough place to play and we are playing a really good team that could be in Omaha at the end of the year. We feel fortunate to have been able to win and secure our (top 4) spot on Wednesday in Hoover. It was a big win for our team.”
Through the first four innings both South Carolina starter Jordan Montgomery and Mississippi State starter Kendall Graveman were effective on the mound for their respective teams.
Scoreless entering the top of the fifth, Carolina broke ahead 2-0 on the Bulldogs. Greiner led off with a base hit up the middle and Graham Saiko drew a walk to give Carolina a pair of runners with no outs. After a groundout by Kyle Martin moved both into scoring position, Greiner scored on Connor Bright’s RBI groundout to second. The Gamecocks would make it 2-0 when Saiko scored on a wild pitch issued by Graveman.
Mississippi State scored once in the sixth inning. Adam Frazier led off with a base hit and Alex Detz singled to give the Bulldogs a pair of runners. After a deep flyout to left by Hunter Renfroe advanced Frazier to third, Brett Pirtle would be hit by a pitch to load the bases. A short flyout to center off the bat of Wes Rea kept the bases loaded. With two outs, Bradford would strikeout but the low strike would get past Greiner for a wild pitch and allowed Frazier to score the first run for MSU. Montgomery kept Carolina ahead with a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
Mississippi State added two runs in the seventh inning to take a 3-2 lead. Derrick Armstrong reached base with one out on a bunt for a base hit. Frazier and Detz followed with singles that loaded the bases. With two outs and the bases still full, Pirtle lifted the first pitch from Montgomery just over Pankake into left-center for a single scoring a pair of runners and giving the Bulldogs a one-run lead.
Back and forth, South Carolina answered with a run in the eighth inning to tie it at 3-3. In a nine-pitch at bat with one out, Max Schrock singled to left field to give the Gamecocks a base runner. Chase Vergason followed with a single to the gap in left-center that put runners on the corners. With two outs and runners still on first and third, MSU reliever Jonathan Holder let one slip and issued up a wild pitch scoring Schrock and tying the game.
The Gamecocks and Westmoreland escaped damage in the bottom of the 9th inning. With two outs, Detz doubled down the left field line. After Renfroe was intentionally walked, Pirtle would be hit for the second time to load the bases for Mississippi State. Westmoreland kept his composure and on a 1-1 pitch to Rea, he got the MSU first baseman to foul out down the first base line to keep the game in check and send it into extra innings.
**Story from USC SID**