South Carolina's late-inning success from earlier this season returned this weekend for arguably the biggest series of the spring.
The No. 17 Gamecocks took two of three games against No. 18 Vanderbilt, winning Saturday's rubber match 6-3. South Carolina (42-14, 18-12 SEC) scored four runs and batted around in the eighth inning, taking control of a game that was tied at 2.
Coupled with South Carolina's comeback win in the opener Thursday, the Gamecocks won their sixth SEC series of the season. They finished second in the SEC East, one game ahead of the Commodores (40-16, 17-13 SEC).
South Carolina won its opener against Vandy with a dramatic, 10-inning comeback. Sophomore Max Schrock tied the game with a two-out, two-strike RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
It wasn't as suspenseful Saturday, but the late innings were still the difference. South Carolina had already scored once in the eighth when Joey Pankake approached the plate. With two outs and the bases loaded, Pankake broke open the game with a two-RBI single.
South Carolina right-hander Joel Seddon pitched two scoreless innings of relief to earn his 15th save of the year. Seddon relieved freshman right-hander Wil Crowe, who had his best outing in conference play. Crowe allowed three runs on four hits in seven-plus innings with no walks and tied a career-high with nine strikeouts.
Crowe (7-3) did not allow a runner to reach six of the innings he pitched in the contest.
"It was an incredible game and incredible performance by Wil (Crowe)," said South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook. "It was one of the biggest games of the year for us, a freshman was out there (on the mound) on the road, we had freshmen up and down the lineup and they played their hearts out. We had some opportunities to score early, I thought that might come back to bite us, but the big four-run inning gave us a little bit of breathing room but I never felt comfortable against that team."
Eight of the nine Gamecocks had at least one hit with all nine reaching base. Marcus Mooney went 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Pankake, junior Kyle Martin and freshman Jordan Gore had two hits apiece.
South Carolina will be the No. 4 seed in the SEC tournament, which begins next week in Hoover, Ala. The Gamecocks will open Wednesday against the winner between No. 5 Mississippi State and No. 12 Georgia.
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