Kyle Enders is likely a forgotten member of a South Carolina infield that includes four potential All-American candidates.
But the redshirt sophomore catcher came through in a big way Sunday afternoon when he delivered a one-out, two-run single in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the 12th-ranked Gamecocks a 7-6 comeback victory against 24th-ranked East Carolina in front of 5,264 fans at Sarge Frye Field.
With USC trailing 6-5, Enders fell behind in the count 1-2 before fouling off four pitches. He then laced a line drive up the middle to score James Darnell and Justin Smoak.
"The coaches kept telling me to look backside, look backside," the former Riverside High star said. "I just kept pulling off and pulling off and fouling away, so I just said 'OK, I'm going to sit back and trust my hands.' I got a change-up and hit it up the middle."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Herald
The stage was set after the Pirates scored in the ninth inning to force extra innings and then added a go-ahead run in the top of the 11th on an RBI single by Stephen Batts.
Darnell opened the 11th with a single off losing pitcher Josh Ruhlman (0-1). Smoak followed with a walk and Adam Crisp executed a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. East Carolina elected to walk Harley Lail to set up a force play before Enders delivered his second hit of the game.
"He's a guy that has been hard to strike out," USC coach Ray Tanner said of Enders. "He'll expand the (strike) zone a little bit, but he's hard to strike out. I was worried he would hit into a twin killer there because that's what they were setting it up for. He hit that ball sharp, and he needed to cause we had Smoak running at second. He's been waiting his turn, and I'm glad to see a young man like that step up for us."
Ender's played sparingly as a freshman last season, registering 12 at bats in 22 games. He is the Gamecocks' best defensive catcher. He started two of this weekend's three games behind the plate and the other as the designated hitter.
As far as being the unsung member of the infield, Enders said any player can step up.
South Carolina (2-1) had to battle back from a 4-1 deficit after East Carolina (1-2) got a two-run home run from Drew Schieber and a solo shot from Ryan Wood.
The Gamecocks split a doubleheader with East Carolina on Saturday. South Carolina won the opener 22-5, but fell in the second 13-4.