After just missing a walk-off home run in the ninth inning, Kyle Enders was thankful to get another opportunity with the game on the line Sunday afternoon against Brown.
The Bears walked two batters to load the bases with one out in the bottom of the 10th and it looked like it might pay off after a strike out of Nick Ebert. But Enders delivered a 1-2 pitch into right field and gave the Gamecocks the sweep of the weekend and their fifth win overall in the 6-5 extra-inning victory.
“I’m glad I got another opportunity to come through again,” Enders said. “I was trying to stay late and hit the ball the other way.”
Enders went 3-for-5 with four RBI.
South Carolina (11-4) held a one-run lead going into the ninth inning, but Matt Price couldn’t protect it. Ryan Zrendo sent the game to extra innings with a two-out single after the Gamecocks failed to turn a double play two batters earlier.
Scott Wingo had trouble getting the ball out of his glove to start the double play.
Christian Walker singled and reached second on a throwing error by Brown but was stranded when Robert Beary flied out to center.
USC left 11 runners on base while the Bears stranded 10. Brown left six of those runners on in three of the final four innings.
“That was a hard-fought win. We knew it would be,” USC manager Ray Tanner said. “We battled, they battled and fortunately we came up with the big hit at the end.”
It looked for a while that Ebert was going to come away with the game-winning hit. Brown took a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Chris Tanabe, and a wild pitch from Parker Bangs allowed Daniel Rosoff to score.
The senior pinch-hit for Brady Thomas with one out in the seventh and a runner on. He drilled the second pitch from reliever Matt Boylan into the Gamecocks’ bullpen for his first home run in 39 at-bats this season.
Last year, Ebert led the Gamecocks with 23 home runs but has struggled out of the gate after missing the opening weekend dealing with academic issues. He struck out in his next two at-bats.
“I felt pretty good after the home run,” Tanner said. “He was in a position to really grow, I think, and it probably offset a little bit today.”
That home run spoiled the effort of Rob Wilcox, a former Dreher High pitcher and life-long USC fan. The senior scattered eight hits over 6Ð innings and left with a 4-3 lead. He walked two and struck out three in his 108-pitch outing.
This is the second time in his career Wilcox had a chance to face off against the Gamecocks. He pitched against them as a freshman and he is familiar with some of their players after playing with the Columbia Blowfish the past two summers.
When he left the mound, he got a round of applause from South Carolina fans.
“I pitched the best I could,” he said. “I can’t complain because I left it all out there. I would have liked the win, but it was a good outing. I had higher expectations this time. I’ve had a lot of experience since then. I was expecting to come out with the win instead of just pitching well.”
Tanner thought Wilcox did enough to win.
“Wilcox knows how to pitch. I didn’t expect us to get a lot of runs, and he didn’t allow too many,” he said.
Tyler Webb bounced back from his disastrous performance a week ago against Clemson. The freshman left-hander allowed two runs on four hits in 5ð innings. He left a change-up high in the zone and Pete Greskoff connected on a two-run home run on the last batter Webb faced.
He struck out seven and walked one.
“I thought he threw well today at times,” Tanner said. “At other times, I don’t think he was as good as he needed to be in certain situations. But he had a quality start. I don’t want to take that away from him.”