Unearned run in ninth helps South Carolina edge Tennessee, 5-4

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Max Schrock's one-out double in the top of the ninth inning scored LB Dantzler to help lift the 11th-ranked South Carolina baseball team to a 5-4 win over Tennessee on Friday in the first game of a three-game SEC series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The Gamecocks improve to 24-7 and 6-4 in the SEC with Tennessee now 13-15 and 3-7 in league play.

With the score deadlocked at 4-4, the Gamecocks caught a break in the top of the ninth as a fielding error by third baseman Will Maddox allowed Dantzler to reach base to open the inning. After a sacrifice bunt moved Dantzler into scoring position, Schrock put Carolina ahead by a run as he launched a 1-0 pitch from reliever Zack Godley over the head of center fielder Pierce Bily for a double, giving Carolina a one-run cushion. Tennessee looked to mount one more rally in the ninth as Jeff Moberg led off with a walk against Tyler Webb. That would be it for the Volunteers though, as Webb retired the next three batters in order. Maddox fouled off a bunt attempt on a nice diving play by third baseman Chase Vergason, followed by strikeouts of A.J. Simcox and Scott Price.

"It was a good feeling," said Schrock. "It was a fastball up in the zone and I was trying not to do too much with it. I stuck the barrel out there and hit it good."

Webb (1-1) earned the win in 1 2-3 innings of relief with one unearned run allowed on one hit and a walk to go with four strikeouts.

Godley (2-3) got the loss, allowing an unearned run on one hit in an inning of work.

The Gamecocks broke ahead first in the game in the second inning with an unearned off of Tennessee starter Aaron Quillen. With one out, Schrock reached base after catcher's interference as his bat hit the mitt of Tennessee catcher David Houser. Carolina would load the bases then as walks to Brison Celek and Grayson Greiner set the stage for Tanner English, who drove in Schrock with a sacrifice fly to center.

Tennessee would manufacture a pair of runs to go ahead 2-1 on the Gamecocks in the third inning. Maddox was hit by a pitch to open the frame. After a sacrifice bunt moved him into scoring position, Price would knock a RBI single into left field. Christin Stewart followed with a single to right field that put runners on the corners and Price scored on the safety squeeze by Pierce Bily.

South Carolina answered with a run in the top of the fourth to tie it at 2-2. Greiner led off with a walk and after a sacrifice by English would score on Graham Saiko's double to the gap in right center.

The Gamecocks regained the lead in the eighth inning with a pair of runs. Schrock walked to lead off followed by a single by Brison Celek and a single by Greiner to load the bases. A wild pitch would allow Schrock to score and Chase Vergason was hit by a pitch to put Carolina ahead.

The Volunteers responded in the bottom half to tie it at 4-4. With one out, Bily drew a walk. With Webb on in relief of Adam Westmoreland, the Volunteers tied it as Vincent Jackson doubled off the wall in right field. On the play, Carolina attempted to get Bily out at home plate but a throw from shortstop Joey Pankake sailed past the Gamecock catcher Grayson Greiner. Jackson advanced to third on the throw and scored then as the ball bounced off the wall and into the Tennessee dugout.

"Our guys responded the right way and still had energy in the dugout (after the eighth inning)," said South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook. "Max got a big hit for us and Tyler Webb was special once again."

South Carolina had seven hits with Tennessee with five for the contest.

Greiner went 2 for 3 and also walked twice. Schrock went 1 for 2 with two runs and two walks as well.

Scott Price went 2 for 5 to lead Tennessee at the plate.

The series continues at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.