What is the best comeback you've ever seen in a game? This can be any sport and you can use whatever criteria you want to decide what makes it the best (how big the comeback was, how important the game was, etc).
(For the record, I wrote this question on Wednesday, before last night's fantastic rally vs LSU, but it turns out that it was a great week to have a Q&A about comeback wins and that I also may be able to predict the future. Tune in next week for our Q&A about your favorite time the Gamecocks won the SEC baseball tournament!)
INB4MIZZOU2013. I remember I was at my place watching with my buddy, a very tolerable and apathetic Clemson fan (they exist!) At the beginning of the 4th quarter when it was 17-0, I remember saying, "Can we at least just get a point on the board to save face? That's all I'm asking at this point." Then Connor Shaw, like, cemented his legacy and stuff. That fourth quarter/OT sequence is something I've watched dozens of times, the reason I probably won't be able to quit rooting for this damned team.
I almost left the best comeback I ever saw (or at least, the one I've chosen among many, including Jorge's Mizzou callback).
I was finishing high school in 2002 and my high school baseball career had just ended in the playoffs. Pretty raw from that, and also from the sadness that was the baseball program's two inch-close failures to make the College World Series in 2000 (thanks to an upset by UL-Lafayette, including a loss to a light-tossing freshman in Game 2 to a left-hander whose name I will never forget - Andy Gros) and 2001 (a tough loss on the road to Stanford), I went into Game 3 of our 2002 Super Regional against Miami feeling like life owed me one. And then life handed Miami a 3-run lead heading into the 9th inning.
With the Gamecocks treated as the visitors in Sarge Frye Field, the last three outs seemed like they were going to be the culmination of a pretty disappointing few years of baseball. And then Yaron Peters singled. So did Brian Buscher. All of a sudden, with no one out, the tying run strode to the plate in the name of pinch hitter Trey Dyson, a local kid from Spring Valley and a senior that had been there during the last two Super Regional losses.
Dyson doubled, scoring Peters. Buscher chugged to third and the throw got away from Miami, and all of a sudden he's scoring, and there's still no one out, and lightly used pinch runner Tim Seaton is standing on second base with no one out as the tying run.
In the Super Regional two years earlier, the Gamecocks left the tying run on base in the ninth inning. They wouldn't do it again. Garris Gonce ripped a double to score Seaton and tie the game, and now the Gamecocks know they'll at least see a home half of the ninth.
Justin Harris arrived at the plate, and Tanner called for a bunt (in a not terrible situation to bunt!), and not only did Gonce advance to third, but Harris raced to first for a single. Then came up Landon Powell, and for some reason, Tanner asked him to bunt, which he did successfully, moving Harris to second, and now there's one out.
Kevin Melillo grounded out to third against a drawn-in infield, which left Drew Meyer at the plate with two on and two outs and a chance to put the Gamecocks in the lead. Carolina didn't need him. A wild pitch scored Gonce, a passed ball scored Harris, and Meyer simply took a walk down to first. Carolina leads 6-4, and the Sarge is going crazy. It stayed crazy even after Steve Thomas grounded into a fielders choice to end the inning.
In the ninth, John Wesley made it interesting for the fans in attendance. After recording the first two outs, he gave up back-to-back singles, putting the tying run on base and leaving the winning run at the plate. But he coaxed a foul ball down the right field line by Jim Burt, and Tim Seaton ran it down in the sparse foul territory that the Sarge had, and the party was on.
It was a really great game, and I think we all needed it, and it was a huge step in putting together the dynasty that has been (and hopefully still is?) Carolina baseball since 2000.
Traditionally, we Gamecocks have been on the giving end of memorable sports comebacks. All you need to do is watch some highlight reels of this season's Football...actually no, don't do that. Forget I said anything.
(Ahem.) Starting over.
When it comes to memorable sports moments, there's a Recency Bias that motivates us to weight fresh memories more highly than events long in the past, however, with regard to Gamecock Football there will be no more statistically absurd comeback than the ‘Connor-puts-team-on-back-and-beats-Mizzou-by-himself' game from 2013. There are no words to describe how surreal an individual performance that was, and it cemented the legend of #14 as a deserving candidate for the Mount Rushmore of Gamecock Football lore.
I was fully prepared to write a long list of the silly long odds that we faced in that game after falling behind 17-0 through three miserable quarters. I was fully prepared to talk about how Connor carved up Mizzou like a Halloween pumpkin, going 20-of-29 for 201 yards in a little over twenty minutes of game clock. I was fully prepared to talk about FREISMAN icing a 40-yard field goal to win the game in 2OT. I was fully prepared to write all of that until Jorge did it better than I could ever do...
SO, what I have done is offer a couple more examples of fantastic Gamecock comebacks, one football, and one baseball.
2000 versus Mississippi State - THE FADE
Eric Kimrey threw exactly EIGHT passes in his career before the famous play that sent Williams-Brice into a euphoric frenzy for the fourth straight week in the 2000 season. The fact that Phil Petty had gone down on the previous play with only four minutes to go in the game, trailing by six points to then No. 25 MSU, was more than a cause for concern...a palpable silence fell over the stadium. I remember sitting in the stands, watching Kimrey take the field, and saying, "maybe we can get the ball back and give Petty time to get back on the field." Six seconds later, one of the most improbable (read: absolute fluke-luck) plays in USC history was in the books as Jermale Kelly crossed the goal-line. There have been better comebacks, but nothing was this random.
Honorable Mention: 1993 vs. Georgia "Over The Top"
2010 versus Oklahoma (CWS)
The entire trip to Omaha in 2010 was a series of seemingly never-ending tense moments. However, were it not for the magic bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. on June 24th, 2010, we wouldn't have even been able to witness, our nail-biter win over Clemson, or Whit Merrifield's magic in game two of the championship series. Carolina had fought tooth and nail against Oklahoma to a tough loss in a game 1 that took seemingly days to complete. We stomped #1 Arizona State in the loser's bracket to send them home, and came back to face Oklahoma in a do-or-die rematch. Oklahoma was a better team for the first 7 innings of that ballgame, and somehow Carolina kept fighting off disaster. It was a hard game to watch; I think I paced five miles during extra innings alone. The extra innings weren't particularly fun to watch either; with two teams specializing in defensive ball grinding it out against one another in a LONG game. Oklahoma scored a run in the top of the 12th that could've easily turned into 2 or 3. Robert Beary came to the plate and reached base with a leadoff single. The offense sputtered despite Beary stealing second, and things seemed like they were just not going to turn out our way, especially because JBJ was 0-5 that night. Then, after a 2-2 pitch that missed the zone by a centimeter, Jackie Bradley saved the universe.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch the whole Mizzou game again in its entirety.
Well Jorge took the most obvious answer, which is my absolute favorite comeback I've ever seen by the Gamecocks. I can count on one hand the number of times I've lost my mind over sports the way I did when Mizzou's field goal didn't go in.
But since everyone else has mentioned the Mizzou game as well, I'll choose my favorite comeback that I've ever seen in person. It was the rally in the bottom of the 9th in game 2 of the baseball team's series against Tennessee last season. As you may remember, Friday's game had gone to extras and then been delayed until the next day. So early Saturday afternoon Jordan Gore hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 14th of the resumed game. Then in the second game Tennessee went up 4-0 pretty early. Going to the bottom of the 9th the Gamecocks were trailing 6-3. The first two at-bats ended with outs. But then Brison Celek singled. Then Max Schrock homered to make it 6-5. Pankake hit what should have been a fly out to right field that ended the game, but the right fielder dropped it. Martin walked, Bright was hit by a pitch and suddenly the bases were loaded for Grayson Greiner. All he needed was a base hit to win it, but he did this. Watching your team win on a walk-off grand slam, the second walk-off victory of the day, is probably one of the coolest sports things ever and was just ridiculously fun.