Schrock, Pankake deliver walk-off win for USC

wsmith@greenvillenews.comMay 12, 2014 

Max Schrock

— Chad Holbrook has been lamenting the absence of Max Schrock in the South Carolina lineup for weeks.

Sunday, in front of a Mother’s Day crowd of 7,307 at Carolina Stadium, the sophomore from Chapel Hill, N.C. showed why.

Schrock led off the ninth inning with a triple to center and later scored on a Joey Pankake single to give the Gamecocks a 2-1 Southeastern Conference walk-off win over Missouri.

USC (39-13, 16-11 SEC) swept the Tigers, setting up a big regular season final series at Vanderbilt beginning Thursday. The Gamecocks and Commodores are tied for second in the SEC’s Eastern Division.

“It really neat to see Max step up there in the ninth and lace a ball in the gap and then kept his head up running around the bases,” said Holbrook. “He wasn’t satisfied with a double.

“He saw the kid dive for it and kind of push it away from himself a little bit. That enabled him to get to third. That changed the whole outlook of the whole inning. It was still going to be extremely hard to score with the leadoff double.”

Schrock has struggled with a plethora of injuries throughout the season. Although he returned strictly as a designated hitter this weekend, he played a role in all three of the wins as he went 5-for-11.

The Gamecocks entered the bottom of the ninth having managed only five hits, all singles, against Missouri starter Keaton Steele.

After Schrock’s triple, Missouri intentionally walked Kyle Martin and Grayson Greiner to load the bases.

The Tigers then moved one of their outfielders to the infield, giving it five players around Steele.

That didn’t faze Pankake who drilled a Steele offering into center field for the winning hit.

“I’ll be honest,” said Schrock. “I didn’t even look at (third base coach Sammy Esposito). I guess he dove for it in the outfield and kind of ticked off his glove. As soon as I saw that I had three in my mind.

“I hit a little wall rounding second, but I was giving it my all to get to third because I knew, when you get a guy to third, the percentages are in your favor.”

Although he didn’t factor in the decision, the Gamecocks got a solid performance from starter Wil Crowe who allowed one run on four hits and a walk, while striking out four in seven innings.

Reliever Cody Mincey (5-0), who pitched the final two innings, earned the victory.

Missouri (20-30, 6-21) suffered its 12th straight SEC loss.

The Gamecocks next host The Citadel on Tuesday.

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