Vanderbilt baseball heads to South Carolina

No. 1 ranked Vanderbilt faces its biggest test of the season this weekend when it faces South Carolina for a 3-game series starting on Friday night. Look inside for previews of both Vanderbilt and South Carolina.

No. 1 Vanderbilt vs. No. 9 South Carolina
Friday 6 p.m.
LHP Kevin Ziomek (8-2, 2.12) vs. LHP Nolan Belcher (6-4, 2.03)

Saturday 11 a.m.
RHP Tyler Beede (11-0, 1.63) vs. LHP Jordan Montgomery (3-0, 1.40)

Sunday 12 p.m.
RHP T.J. Pecoraro (2-1, 3.93) vs. LHP Jack Wynkoop (6-2, 2.66)

ABOUT VANDERBILT

In picking up a 10-2 win at ranked Louisville and sweeping ranked Mississippi State, Vandy enjoyed its biggest week of the season. Now the 39-6 (19-2 SEC) top ranked Commodores must travel to a red hot South Carolina team that won a series at LSU last weekend. If Vanderbilt can pull off another sweep they can lock up the SEC East title. However, a series victory will likely be a best case scenario against this South Carolina team that has won two of the last three national titles.

Vanderbilt second baseman Tony Kemp (.399, 25 RBIs) was named the SEC Player of the Week after going 9-for-14. Kemp went 4-for-4 in Saturday's win over Mississippi State. Right fielder Mike Yastrzemski (.331, 32 RBIs) has five homers on the season. Vince Conde (.314, 34 RBIs) drove in four runs in the win at Louisville and has six home runs on the season. Connor Harrell (.314, 52 RBIs) leads the team in RBIs and home runs (8) but has batted just .143 over the past four games. Conrad Gregor (.291, 31 RBIs) leads the Commodores in walks with 39. Gregor went 3-for-3 in Sunday's win over the Bulldogs.

Vanderbilt'S Friday pitcher, Kevin Ziomek, looked strong while pitching the Commodores to a win over Mississippi State last Friday night. Ziomek struck out nine batters while allowing just four hits, three walks and one earned run in seven innings of work. On the season Ziomek has struck out 84 while walking just 29 and allowing 45 hits and 29 walks. Ziomek, whose pitches goes into the low to mid 90s, was drafted in the 13th round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Diamondbacks.

Righty Tyler Beede (11-0, 1.63 ERA) is firmly entrenched as the Commodores' Saturday starter. He'd likely be a Friday starter at most division I baseball schools. Beede, a first round MLB Draft choice who opted to be a Commodore, doesn't have some of the snazzy stats like other successful pitchers. However, Beede is a winner who meets the challenge when the going gets tough. Bases loaded, no outs? No problem. Beede will get out of the inning without a blemish most of the time. Talk about demoralizing an opponent! Bases loaded and not outs and NOTHING to show for it! Here's a snazzy stat for you: 13 earned runs allowed in 71 2/3 innings pitched.

T.J. Pecoraro (2-1, 3.93) T.J. finally returned from his injury on April 9 in pitching two innings in the 10-3 win over UT-Martin. Against Missouri three weeks ago Pecoraro pitched three innings and struck out two while allowing one earned run. Two weeks ago in Athens, Ga., Pec pitched 4.2 innings and allowed one run and struck out two. Most recently, in Sunday's win over Mississippi State Pecoraro pitched five innings allowing four hits and one earned run while walking three and striking out two. Pecoraro will see his biggest test of the season on Sunday against South Carolina. Having Pecoraro back gives Vanderbilt another strong arm in its corner and will pay dividends in the SEC and NCAA tournaments.

Closer Brian Miller (0.72 ERA) has a Commodore record 12 saves this season. In 39.2 innings Miller has allowed only 28 hits and just three earned runs and six walks. Few teams in college baseball have a closer as good as Miller.

Vanderbilt as a team is batting .314 compared to its opponent's BA of .212. The Commodores pitching staff has a 2.58 ERA while Vandy's opponents have a 6.71 ERA versus the Commodores.

ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA

No. 9 South Carolina (33-12, 13-8 SEC) is currently on a 2-game winning streak. Last week the Gamecocks started the week rough, losing on Tuesday to Gardner- Webb (7-6) and then falling on Friday night at LSU, 5-2. However, USC rebounded and beat the Tigers on Saturday (4-2) and then pulled off a 4-0 shutout on Sunday to hand LSU its first conference series loss of the season. South Carolina has won conference series at Missouri (2-1), against Texas A&M (3-0), at Tennessee (3-0) and against Kentucky (3-0). The Gamecocks have lost two series after being swept by both Florida (Gainesville) and Arkansas (Columbia).

South Carolina is fourth in the SEC in team batting with a .286 average. The Gamecocks are leading the SEC in home runs with 40. LB Dantzler (.342, 44 RBIs) has a team leading 12 home runs and 13 doubles. Right fielder Connor Bright (.316, 15 RBIs) reached just twice in nine at bats at LSU. Joey Pankake (.311, 31 RBIs) has five home runs on the season with one coming in the Friday night loss to LSU. Catcher Grayson Greiner (.295, 28 RBIs) and center fielder Tanner English (.295, 28 RBIs) each had triples in Saturday's win in Baton Rouge. English, a sophomore, reached and scored runs in both Saturday and Sunday's wins. Max Schrock (.276, 31 RBIs) is the team's co-leader in walks with 28. Schrock had pair of singles and an RBI in Sunday series clinching victory. Chase Vergason (.276, 20 RBIs) had hits in both Saturday and Sunday's wins over LSU. Graham Saiko (.261, 18 RBIs) is the Gamecock's leadoff man. He has 27 walks on the season and has stolen 10-of-12 bases successfully.

South Carolina has a strong pitching staff and is currently fifth in the SEC in ERA with a 3.05.

Kevin Ziomek will throw against South Carolina lefty Nolan Belcher on Friday night. Against LSU last Friday, Belcher pitched 5.2 innings and struck out four while allowing seven hits, four earned runs and and four walks in picking up the loss. Belcher on the season has struck out 65 while walking just 9 and allowing 68 hits. The Groveton, Ga., native's fastball runs into the low 90s.

The Commodores' Beede will face lefty Jordan Montgomery on Saturday. In seven starts (38.2 IP) this season he has struck out 32 while allowing 35 hits, 10 walks and just six earned runs for a paltry 1.40 ERA. On Saturday in Baton Rouge Montomery allowed 10 hits in 7 inning pitched. However, the sophomore allowed no walks and just two earned runs in picking up his third win of the season.

Vandy's Pecoraro will likely face South Carolina's Jack Wynkoop on Sunday. Before the LSU series, South Carolina had its Sunday starter listed as "TBA". Wynkoop was named the starter and delivered a stunning performance in shutting out the Tigers 4-0. Wynkoop scattered five hits and allowed no runs and walks while striking out one. Wynkoop has a fastball that runs up to about 90 miles an hour. Wynkoop, a lefty, has struck out 27 while walking seven and allowing 14 earned runs in 47.1 inning this season.

USC's closer is lefty Tyler Webb (2-1, 0.59 ERA). Webb has 44 strikeouts while allowing just 18 hits, seven walks and three earned runs en-route to 14 saves.

South Carolina as a team bats .286 while opposing teams have a .211 average versus the Gamecocks. South Carolina's pitchers have an overall 2.34 ERA while opponents have a 5.99 ERA versus the Gamecocks.
SEC STANDINGS

EAST	CONF	GB	ALL

VAN	19-2	-	39-6
USC	13-8	6 	33-12
FLA	12-9	7	25-20
KEN	 9-12	10	26-17
MIZ	 7-14	12 	15-25
TEN	 6-15	13 	18-25
GEO	 4-16	14.5 	16-28
 
WEST	CONF	GB	ALL

LSU	16-5	-	40-6
ARK	13-7	2.5	30-15
ALA  	11-9	4.5	27-18
OLM	11-10	5	32-14
MSU	10-11	6	33-13	
TAM	 7-13	8.5	23-22
AUB	 7-14	9	25-18
SEC THIS WEEK

Vanderbilt @ South Carolina
Florida @ LSU
Arkansas @ Kentucky
Georgia @ Tennessee
Ole Miss @ Auburn
Alabama @ Mississippi State
Missouri @ Texas A&M

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