COLUMBIA - South Carolina's late-inning magic from earlier in the SEC season returned Sunday at Carolina Stadium.
For the fifth time this season, the No. 17 Gamecocks won on a walk-off hit. Junior Joey Pankake's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth gave South Carolina a 2-1 win over Missouri (20-30, 6-21 SEC), capping a sweep of the Tigers.
It was the Gamecocks' (39-13, 16-11 SEC) second SEC sweep of the season.
"They brought in an extra infielder, so at that point they only had two outfielders," Pankake said. "So I was just trying to get something into the outfield. (The pitcher) had been throwing a lot of off-speed, so I was sort of looking for it. Coaches told me to be ready for it. So I got one to hit, and I put a good swing on it."
Max Schrock opened the bottom of the ninth with a double to right-center and made it safely to third on a fielding error by Missouri center fielder Jake Ring. Missouri elected to intentionally walk Kyle Martin and Grayson Greiner to set up the force play and bring a fifth infielder in to try and get a force at home.
Instead, Pankake belted a base hit to center field and Schrock scored. Pankake went 2-for-4 to lead the Gamecocks at the plate.
"It was really neat to see Max step up there in the ninth and place the ball in the gap," Holbrook said. "He kept his head up running around the bases and he was not satisfied with the double. He saw the [Missouri center fielder] dive for [the ball] and push the ball away from himself, which enabled Max to get to third. That changed the outlook of the whole inning."
Moments after the win, Holbrook began looking ahead to Vanderbilt. South Carolina will finish its regular season with a trip to Nashville, where second place in the SEC East will be on the line.
It's a big series because South Carolina took care of business on its end, but also because Vanderbilt is among the hottest teams in the conference. This weekend, the Commodores took a home series against Florida, which is currently first in the SEC East.
"Obviously, it's going to have implications, and big implications," Holbrook said. "But the season doesn't end, no matter what happens. If we play well at Vandy, or if they play well, the season doesn't end on Saturday in Nashville.
"There's a lot of baseball to be played."