Gamecocks blast Vandy 16-7, tie series
Both teams are 11-4 and 1-1 in the league with the rubber game of the series scheduled for 2 pm ET on Sunday afternoon.
Seven of the nine Gamecock starters recorded multi-hit games including three hits apiece from Justin Smoak and James Darnell. Both hit totals tied season-highs for each player. Reese Havens, Whit Merrifield, Kyle Enders and Andrew Crisp also recorded two hits apiece. Disher tallied his fourth home run of the year with Darnell coming away with his second of the season. The 18-hit total was the second highest by Carolina in a game this year.
Atwood went 6.2 innings, a season-high, and struck out a career-high seven batters while walking four in the game. He allowed five runs on eight hits. He is 1-0 on the year. Vanderbilt starter Nick Christiani suffered the loss and is 1-1 on the year. He lasted only 2.1 innings and gave up nine runs, five earned.
Carolina broke ahead 5-0 in the top of the first inning against Christiani. Reese Havens led off the game with a single and after a sacrifice bunt from Whit Merrifield would score on Justin Smoak's RBI base hit up the middle. The Gamecocks would then catch a break as a throwing error by shortstop Ryan Flaherty on a force play gave the Gamecocks a pair of runners with just one out. After a fly out to James Darnell, the Gamecocks would then use three consecutive two-out RBI singles from Harley Lail, Andrew Crisp and Phil Disher to score four more runs and gain a five-run cushion.
Vanderbilt would plate across a run in the bottom of the first inning but Atwood was able to get out of a bases load jam with no outs and limited the damage. With no outs and the bags full, Atwood fanned Dominic de la Osa with a strikeout and then forced a 4-3-4 double play with just one run scoring from third base to keep the Gamecocks ahead by four runs.
After a scoreless second inning, the Gamecocks came back with five more runs in the third inning and knocked Christiani from the game to go ahead 10-1 against the Commodores. Smoak and Kyle Enders each opened the third inning with singles with Smoak then scoring on a RBI base hit courtesy of Darnell. Both Enders and Darnell would then score on a RBI double from Andrew Crisp down the right field line that knocked Christiani out of the game. Carolina designated hitter Phil Disher then greeted Vanderbilt reliever Steven Schwartz by drilling the first pitch he saw for a home run to left center, his fourth homer of the year. The ball was a long shot from Disher, and almost hit Memorial Coliseum located about 450 feet behind the left center wall.
That lead increased to 13-1 as the Gamecocks added three more runs in the fourth inning. Whit Merrifield got things started with a base hit that was followed by Smoak's third straight single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Merrifield would score on a RBI fielder's choice from Kyle Enders. Third baseman James Darnell then launched a two-run homer to left center for his second home run of the year to put Carolina on top by 12 runs. South Carolina scored its final three runs of the game in the fifth inning. Havens tallied a RBI base hit and Enders added a two-run double.
Vanderbilt would chip away in the final four innings with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings along with two runs in the seventh and again single runs in the eight and ninth frames. The Commodores finished with 12 hits including three hits from Alex Feinberg and a pair from Andrew Giobbi. Giobbi and Brad French tallied two RBI apiece for Vanderbilt. Carolina reliever Justin Hopper finished the game for the Gamecocks and went 2.1 innings allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts and a walk.
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