June 2, 2012
LB Dantzler blasted a walk-off single off the right-field wall in the bottom of the 12th inning, scoring freshman Joey Pankake to lift South Carolina to a thrilling 5-4 victory over rival Clemson on Saturday in the 2012 NCAA Columbia Regional at Carolina Stadium.
Pankake came through with a leadoff single to begin the 12th. Junior Evan Marzilli then moved Pankake to third with a single to left center, setting the stage for Dantzler. After Christian Walker popped up to right field, Dantzler smashed a 2-2 offering from Kevin Brady to right to drive in Pankake for the victory in front of a sellout crowd of 8,242.
With the win, the Gamecocks improve to 42-17 on the year and advance to the winner's bracket final where they will face the winner of the Clemson-Coastal Carolina game at 4 p.m. on Sunday. South Carolina extends its NCAA-record of consecutive postseason wins to 18 and is now 10-0 all-time at Carolina Stadium in the postseason. The Gamecocks have also won 21 consecutive postseason games at home.
The Tigers drop to 34-27 on the season and will play Coastal Carolina in an elimination game on Sunday at noon.
Carolina tallied 12 hits on the evening, including a 3-for-6 night from Marzilli. Dantzler, Pankake and Adam Matthews contributed two hits apiece. Matthews had two RBIs after delivering his fifth home run of the season.
Clemson collected eight hits in the loss. Brad Felder led the way with three base knocks, including a solo home run.
South Carolina reliever Evan Beal (4-4) worked a perfect 1 1/3 innings to earn the win, striking out two batters.
Brady (1-3) picked up the loss after working three innings and giving up one run and five hits. He also had three strikeouts.
In a game that feature big plays in almost every inning, one of the biggest came early on for the Gamecocks. Carolina starting pitcher Michael Roth got in a jam in the top of the second inning as he gave up a single and walked two batters to load the bases with no outs. However, the Gamecocks turned a huge double play that involved interference being called on the base runner going to second, forcing runners to go back to second and third base and taking a run off the board. Roth was then able to get Spencer Kieboom to fly out to center field to end the threat.
After getting the Gamecock offense going in Friday's win, Matthews was back at it on Saturday as he delivered a two-out two-run home run to left field in the fourth to give South Carolina a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers found their offense in the seventh with a three-run rally to take the lead. With one out and runners on first and second, Steve Wilkerson lined a double down the left-field line to drive in one run. Thomas Brittle followed with a RBI single, and Pohl reached on a fielder's choice with the bases loaded to plate another run and give Clemson a 3-2 advantage.
Clemson pushed its lead to 4-2 in the eighth when Felder sent a solo homer over the right-field wall.
The Gamecocks pulled to within a run in the home half of the eighth. Marzilli ripped a single to right field to lead things off. Walker then doubled down the left-field line, scoring Marzilli from first to make it a 4-3 ballgame.
Carolina rallied in the ninth to tie the game. Kyle Martin delivered a pinch-hit single to lead off the frame. After Chase Vergason drew a walk and Dante Rosenberg laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third, Pankake lined a single to center field, scoring pinch runner TJ Costen to tie the game. Vergason was waved home on the play, but he was thrown out at the plate to keep the contest knotted at 4-4, as the teams went to extra innings where Dantzler delivered the game-winning single.
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