Gamecocks win on “wild” walk-off, top Tennessee
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 15 South Carolina faced a 7-3 deficit through four and a half innings before storming back with an 8-7 win over No. 2 Tennessee to take the first game of the series at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field on Friday. The Lady Vols attempted to intentionally walk Krystan White in the bottom of the seventh with Kenzi Maguire on third but a wild pitch brought home Maguire to give the Gamecocks their second walk-off win of the season.
Freshman Kelsey Oh, who came on in relief in the bottom of the fifth, posted the biggest out of the game in the circle in the top of the seventh with a bases-loaded groundout to short to hold the Lady Vols scoreless. After making the inning-ending play, Maguire started the bottom frame with a double before eventually coming around to score on the wild pitch.
“We had a lot of great at-bats,” head coach Beverly Smith said. “We were hitting balls hard. We just had this no-quit attitude that paid off when Kenzi Maguire led off with a double. We had a runner in scoring position with no outs, it was an awesome way to end the game against an excellent Tennessee team.”
South Carolina 26-4 (3-1 SEC) fought from start to finish in a thrilling SEC victory. Both teams traded a scoreless first before the Lady Vols posted three runs in the second to take an early 3-0 lead.
Carolina responded in a big way in the bottom of the third thanks to Mackenzie Boesel’s two-out triple to score two to make it 3-2 Lady Vols before White tied it the very next at-bat with a single to left.
Tennessee responded with two more runs in the fourth and fifth, thinking it had put the game away with a 7-3 lead.
Carolina wouldn’t accept that fate, as Tiara Duffy blasted a ball to the middle of the beach volleyball courts beyond the wall in right to cut the Lady Vols’ lead to 7-4. Mackenzie Boesel later cut the deficit to 7-5 with a solo home run later in the inning with two outs.
Freshman Jana Johns completed the comeback heroics with a monster two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to set up the memorable finish in the seventh.
Duffy shined at the plate for the Gamecocks, going 3-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. Oh (7-2) earned the victory in the circle, her first-career SEC victory.
With the win tonight, Carolina improved to 26-4 (3-1) on the year and has still not lost consecutive games all season.
Carolina’s win tonight was notable as it ended No. 2 Tennessee’s 22-game winning streak and has set up the Gamecocks for their second-straight SEC series win.
Carolina earned the series win over Ole Miss with the win last weekend. This was Carolina’s first SEC road series win since the Gamecocks took down No. 22 Georgia in Athens, Ga., last year. This was also the second-straight time the Gamecocks took the series in Oxford.
Head coach Beverly Smith moved to 253-182 after the Tennessee win. She is the second-winningest coach in school history.
Up next — Carolina continues its big three-game series against No. 2 Tennessee tomorrow at 3:00 PM ET on ESPN 2. Live stats will be on gamecocksonline.com.
Gamecocks Athletics contributed to this post.