Vanderbilt holds off late comeback from USC to defeat the Gamecocks, 7-6

Vanderbilt took control early and received a great pitching performance from Patrick Raby but a shaky bullpen let go of a five run lead but held on in the 9th inning to defeat South Carolina 7-6 and win game one of the Commodores road series in Columbia. Game two between the Vandy and USC is tomorrow night with first pitch set for 6 pm Central, aired on ESPNU.

Commodores closer Reed Hayes pinched hit in the 9th and came back in the bottom of the inning to close out an almost come from behind victory from South Carolina but the junior two way player went through four Gamecock hitters to eventually close things down for a 7-6 Vanderbilt win. 

Things were looking good early as Vanderbilt went out to an early 6-1 lead and put in solid work at the plate against the Gamecocks Friday night starter in Wil Crowe. The Commodores were aggressive against Crowe's fastball early and took advantage when the right hander left the ball up over the plate. 

Vanderbilt had three straight singles in the 2nd inning followed by a sacrifice fly from freshman Harrison Ray to jump out to a 2-0 lead. The Commodores broke things open in the fifth with three runs with things started off by a single, stolen base and a heady run down affair from Jeren Kendall, that eventually had him cross the plate. Senior catcher Jason Delay put the Dores up five when he launched a high fly ball into deep left center that the Gamecocks outfield had trouble with and it saw the Florida native get around the bases all the way to third.

The big fifth seemed to be more than enough cushion for starting pitcher Patrick Raby. The sophomore righty had a stellar performance on Thursday night going seven innings, allowing one earned one on eight hits while striking out six and only walking one Gamecock hitter. His fastball was hard for South Carolina to keep up with and Raby did a good job of mixing up his pitches and keeping the Gamecock hitters off balance. 

Collin Snider replaced Raby in the 8th and that's when things began to go downhill for the Commodores. A ground ball off the leg of 2nd baseman Alonzo Jones put the lead-off man on base. Snider was able to strikeout the next hitter but South Carolina catcher Chris Cullen came up next and blooped a single into left field. 

Gamecocks 2nd baseman L.T. Tolbert came up with two runners on base and four pitches later, he launched a towering shot over the right field wall to bring the score back to within two and the inning wasn't over yet. Jacob Olson laced a double into left center and that hit would chase Snider from the game. Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin went back to the bullpen, calling on freshman lefty Zach King. The Spring Hill native had one out to work around with Olson standing on 2nd base. King did allow a hit that scored Olson but he was able to collect the other two outs and get the Commodores out of the inning, clinging on to a one run lead. 

After pinch hitting in the top of the inning, Vanderbilt closer Reed Hayes came into the bottom of the 9th to close things down and he did just that. After allowing a lead-off walk, Hayes settled into the put down the next three batters and pick up his 5th save of the season. The Commodores might of had to gut things out and make things closer than they should of been but they stayed strong and found away to win game one on the road in a usual tough atmosphere. 

Vanderbilt collected 11 hits on the night with Delay leading the way. The senior catcher went 3-5 on the evening with three RBI's and being a home run away from hitting for the cycle. 1st baseman Julian Infante went 1-4 on the night but launched his 6th home run of the season. Raby picked up the win and improved his record to 5-3 while Crowe dropped his record to 3-2, while taking the loss. 

The Commodores and Gamecocks will play game two on ESPNU tomorrow night with Vanderbilt throwing Kyle Wright and South Carolina tossing Clarke Schmidt. First pitch is set for 6 pm Central. 

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