Hoover, Ala. – Vanderbilt squeezed by No. 4 South Carolina Wednesday night in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament with a 3-2 victory at Regions Park.
Vanderbilt (31-25) battled back to tie the game in the sixth inning and took the lead for the first time in the eighth on a gutsy call by Head Coach Tim Corbin. Vince Conde led off the eighth with a double into the left field corner before being moved over to third on Tony Kemp’s sacrifice bunt. Mike Yastrzemski then fell into a 1-2 count before dropping down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to score Conde from third and put VU on top. Will Clinard recorded the final six outs of the game to seal the Commodores’ season-best seventh straight win.
The Gamecocks (39-16) jumped out to an early lead with two runs in the second inning thanks to a two-out rally. Grayson Greiner’s double to left field started the rally before a single from Kyle Martin and a hit batter loaded the bases for Tanner English, who smoked the first pitch he saw into left field to score Greiner and Martin.
The Dores jumped on the comeback trail in the fifth scoring a run to cut the deficit to one. Connor Harrell led off the frame with a double down the left field line and moved to third base on a deep fly out to center field by Chris Harvey before scoring on Conde’s sacrifice fly. Vandy tied the game in the sixth with a clutch two-out single through the right side by Spencer Navin to score Yastrzemski from second base. The Commodores had just five hits in the win with five different Dores contributing one hit each.
Kevin Ziomek (5-6) picked up the win out of the bullpen working two scoreless innings. The lefty worked out of a jam in the seventh when he walked consecutive batters with one out before getting LB Dantzler to fly out and Joey Pankake to ground out to end the threat. Clinard came on to notch his fifth save of the season working out of a tight spot with two runners on in the eighth by striking out Evan Marzilli and turning in a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Vanderbilt starter T.J. Pecoraro pitched five solid innings, keeping the Commodores in the game by stranding eight runners over his five frames. Tyler Webb (5-1) was pinned with the loss for South Carolina allowing two runs on three hits over four innings.
The win marks the second straight year Vanderbilt has topped South Carolina in the second round of the SEC Tournament, including last season’s 7-2 Vandy win. The Commodores are 18-6 in the team’s last 24 games with seven victories over ranked opponents.