Vanderbilt Takes Game Two

The #1 Vanderbilt Commodores used a 3-run fifth inning Saturday night to walk away with a victory over #3 South Carolina at Carolina Stadium to even the three game series at one apiece. Aaron Westlake and Mike Yastrzmeski each drove in two runs for Vandy, who improved to 32-4, 11-3 in the SEC. Carolina fell to 27-7, 11-3 in the SEC

It wasn't your typical shutdown performance by Vanderbilt starter Grayson Garvin Saturday night against South Carolina, but it was enough. The lefty went six innings, scattering six hits, giving up four runs with a walk and three strikeouts to give Vanderbilt a 6-4 win to even the three-game series at one apiece and tying the Gamecocks atop the SEC at 11-3 in the conference. Tony Kemp went 5-for-5 and scored two runs and Aaron Westlake and Mike Yastrzemski each had two RBI's.

"I was impressed with Grayson Garvin going out there tonight," head coach Ray Tanner said. "We battled him and took some pretty good hacks - got some runs early - we competed all night long and tried to get in a position to sneak back in and win, but they did a great job out of the bullpen getting big outs when they needed them."

Garvin's counterpart, Colby Holmes, struggled all night. Holmes was given credit for 4.1 innings, giving up all six runs and seven hits while walking one and striking out four.

Vandy wasted little time getting on the board in their half of the first inning. Kemp sent the third pitch of the game into the gap in right center up against the Gamecock bullpen for a leadoff double. Anthony Gomez did a nice job of situational hitting, grounding out to Scott Wingo at second that advanced Kemp to third. Aaron Westlake - one of the SEC's best hitters - recorded his 26th RBI of the season with a groundout to Peter Mooney that scored Kemp. Holmes got out of the inning by forcing Jason Esposito into a shallow fly ball to right that Robert Beary nearly over ran, making a sliding catch at the foul line.

Vanderbilt would add on another run in the second on a leadoff homerun from Mike Yastrzemski - his first of the season - to give the Commodores a 2-0 lead. Holmes would hold them there thanks to a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play from Riley Reynolds after the previous batter, Conrad Gregor, had drawn a walk.

South Carolina came right back in its half of the second. Christian Walker sneaked a single through the middle to lead off the inning. Adrian Morales seemed to have a single through the left side, but Esposito made a diving stop and threw Morales out at first with Walker advancing to second. After an Adam Matthews walk, Brady Thomas lined one over the second baseman's head and into right center to score Walker and advance Matthews to third. Evan Marzilli sneaked one down the third base line, scoring Matthews and Thomas hustled into third on the play. Robert Beary hit a slow roller to Esposito at third but his only play was at first as Thomas scored to give the Gamecocks a 3-2 lead. Garvin got out of the inning after Mooney flew out to shallow center.

Vandy would tie it up via the long ball in the fourth. After Westlake went down swinging, Esposito hit a fly ball to right that would be a routine fly ball under normal conditions. However, with the wind gusting out to right pretty heavily it just made it over the wall, bouncing off the railing on top of the wall.

In the following inning, Vandy would retake the lead, ending Holmes' night in the process. Gregor singled to start the inning, and after a Reynolds strikeout, Connor Harrell was hit by a pitch. Kemp singled up the middle to load the bases, and Gomez singled in Gregor to end the night for Holmes. Bryan Harper was brought in to face the Westlake in a lefty-lefty match-up. Westlake would win the battle, singling to right to bring home Harrell and give Vandy a 5-3 lead. Harper got Esposito to pop up in foul territory to third, but walked Yastrzemski to score Kemp and give Vanderbilt a 6-3 lead to end Harper's night. Jose Mata came on in relief to strike out Curt Casali to end the inning.

A scary moment occurred for South Carolina in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Matthews attempted a push-bunt to first. He bunted it harder than he wanted to and Westlake laid a tag on him. Matthews attempted to dive under the tag and at some point reinjured his hamstring.

"(It's)Too early to tell but I'd imagine it would be a while," Tanner said. "It's disappointing - I know he feels bad. This is a big year for him and he felt great. I was kind of cautious with him the last few days and didn't play him in the outfield. He's not sure whether he pulled it running to first or on the dive. Hopefully with our doctors and training staff they turn these guys around pretty good. They'll go to work tonight and we'll try and get him back as quick as we can."

South Carolina would get one of the runs back in the sixth on a two-out bomb of the bat of Thomas - his fourth of the season - to cut the Vandy lead to 6-4. Garvin would get out of the inning without any furthur damage by striking out Beary to end the sixth.

Carolina missed a golden opportunity to get more in the seventh. Mooney led off with a walk and Wingo reached on a bunt single. Garvin got Bradley Jr looking, then Jack Armstrong came on to strike out Walker on a ball in the dirt, and Morales flew out to left to end the inning.

"You're in a situation there where you get a hit or two and tie the game or take the lead," Tanner said. "We didn't and you credit their bullpen for coming in and getting some outs. We had some opportunities and they had some opportunities and they were better than we were tonight. We always failed to come up with that big hit when we need it."

The Gamecocks would get a runner on first in the eighth and ninth, but could not get the big homerun to tie the game. Vanderbilt outhit South Carolina 10-7, but Carolina left 10 runners on base against Vanderbilt's five. Vanderbilt improves to 32-4 overall and 11-3 in the SEC. Carolina drops to 27-7, 11-3 in the SEC.

Sunday's rubber game that will determine the leader in the East heading into next week is scheduled for 1:00 and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2. Forrest Koumas will oppose Aaron Hill on the mound.

"We win a close one last night and lose a close one tonight," Tanner said. "They've got outstanding players, great pitchers. We won one game apiece. Two pretty good teams going at it. Got a rubber game tomorrow and hopefully it'll be a standing-room only and that's the way it should be. I told our guys after the game that it's one of those deals when we've got a quick turn around. We have pre-game at 9:15 in the morning."

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories