Gamecock onslaught sinks Vandy in 14-5 win
The only thing that could slow down the South Carolina bats on Saturday night – a 15 minute rain delay.
USC sent 19 batters to the plate in the third and fourth innings combined, scoring 10 runs on 11 hits which they used to build an 11-1 lead. That would be all the offense that starter Nolan Belcher would need as he kept the Vanderbilt offense at bay, and the Gamecocks locked up a series win with a 14-5 victory.
"I thought (Friday) night we had some great at-bats against Mike Minor, only struck out one time and really had a great approach offensively and we carried over a little bit tonight," USC coach Ray Tanner said. "After that rain, normally the ball jumps a little bit with humidity and it did jump."
After taking an early lead and having to hold on against Vanderbilt in Game 1, the Gamecock batters left no doubt about who was in control during Saturday's match-up. The Commodore's 1-0 lead came without a hit in the first inning as a walk, hit batter and wild pitch allowed Brian Harris to score. But a DeAngelo Mack solo shot tied the game up in the bottom half of the frame. Following a scoreless second, Carolina (29-18, 11-12 SEC) began putting the distance on the scoreboard as second baseman Scott Wingo started things off with a double to right. Whit Merrifield's fly ball out to right was followed by three straight singles from Mack, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Nick Ebert making it 3-1. Andrew Crisp's RBI groundout with the bases loaded made it 4-1 and was followed by a two run single from Jeffery Jones and an RBI single from Bobby Haney. The inning ended with the Gamecocks batting around on a groundout to first by Wingo.
"We're seeing the ball real good as a team right now, hitting everything it seems like they throw at us and we're executing bunts and hit and runs and that's huge," Ebert said. "Today we were able to get a couple of little dinkers to fall too and that hasn't been happening for us."
The hitting barrage carried over into the fourth inning as Merrifield and Mack started things off with back-to-back solo home runs to make it 8-1. That prompted Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin to pull starter Drew Hayes (4-3) for reliever Grayson Garvin who found the road just as tough.
Garvin gave up a single to Bradley and walk to Ebert before getting Justin Dalles to strikeout for the first out of the inning. But the runs kept coming as Crisp hit an RBI single and was followed by pinch hitter Parker Bangs' run scoring double to make it 11-1 Carolina.
"Last weekend we didn't stack runs. This weekend we did. We stacked a lot of (at-bats)," Mack said.
Nick Ebert added the final three runs of the game for USC as he hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth while adding two more on a home run three rows up the bleachers in left for two more runs to finish the day with four RBI on two hits. He now has a team high 17 long balls while Mack sits in second place with 13.
That would be all the offense USC starter Nolan Belcher (3-3) would need as he gave up no hits through the first three innings. Aside from the first inning run from the wild pitch, Vanderbilt scored all of their other runs against Belcher via the long ball. Jonathan White's two-run shot and Aaron Westlake's solo job each cleared the park and landed on Williams Street. After Steven Liddle's homer to right in the eighth, Belcher got Curt Casali to fly out to center which ended his day as he was pulled for Curtis Johnson. The right hander gave up two hits and three base runners in his appearance but kept Vanderbilt from scoring to seal the game.
"That was awesome tonight. Our hitters really hit it up good. It was like watching a home run derby out there for both teams actually," Belcher said. "I was falling behind early on and wasn't looking too good starting off there but once we batted around there I kind of settled down a little bit."
With the win, USC now sits third in the SEC Eastern Division standings and is the No. 7 team overall in the standings for the SEC Tournament's field of eight teams.
"You hope as a coach that no matter what happens your guys will come back, they will handle some adversity," Tanner said. "These guys have been scrapping a little bit the last two days for us. I'm proud of them and obviously I'd like to have a great game tomorrow. Win, lose or draw I'd like to come out and put together a great game."
- Eight different Gamecocks drove in a run in the game, making it the most players to do so since nine players did it on April 14 against the College of Charleston.
- DeAngelo Mack's two home run game is the first by a USC player since Justin Dalles did it against Wofford on March 11. Mack also set a career high with four hits on the night.
- Right fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. made it back-to-back games with three hits on his 3-for-4 outing on Saturday. He went 3-for-5 on Friday.
- The first two wins gives USC its first series over Vanderbilt since 2004.
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