South Carolina hosted #1 Vanderbilt over the weekend and won the series by scores of 3-1, 4-6 and 5-3.
Breaking it Down…Tell me if you’ve heard this story before. South Carolina sent Michael Roth to the mound on Friday night to face off against a top ranked opponent’s elite pitcher. Like the other times you’ve read this story, Roth got the best of the match up and won the game.
Coming into the game, Vanderbilt was the leading offensive team in the conference. They didn’t record their first hit against Roth until the fifth inning. The only Commodore run came in the eighth but it wasn’t enough to win the game.
The South Carolina offense started the scoring in the third inning. Evan Marzilli led off the inning with a bunt single, and after two strike outs and a stolen base, Scott Wingo singled Marzilli home. In the fourth Christian Walker led off with a single and scored on an Adam Matthews RBI single. The Gamecocks then loaded the bases, but couldn’t push another run across. Leading 2-0, USC got one more run on the board in the seventh. With no one on base, Peter Mooney hit a deep fly ball down the left field line. The wind caught it and pushed it just over the outfield fence. Three runs would be enough. With two out in the eighth Roth gave way to Matt Price. Price had to face the 2-5 batters to end the game. He struck out one in the eighth and then all three in the ninth to record the save.
On Saturday, Vanderbilt’s offense got off to a faster start. They led off the game with a double, and after two groundouts, they had a 1-0 lead. That lead was extended to two runs, with a lead off home run in the second inning. South Carolina responded in the bottom of the second. Chrstian Walker led off with a single and would score on a Brady Thomas single. Evan Marzilli then singled in Adam Matthews, who had been walked. Brady Thomas then scored on a Robert Beary ground out to take the lead 3-2. Vanderbilt tied the game in the fourth on an Esposito solo home run, and then they exploded in the fifth. The Commodores put three runs on the board with a single, walk, single, single, single and a walk. Bryan Harper relieved Colby Holmes and allowed the last two runs of the inning. Leading 6-3 Vanderbilt pretty much shut down South Carolina. They gave up a solo home run to Brady Thomas in the sixth, but other than that South Carolina’s offense couldn’t produce much.
On Sunday, Jackie Bradley, Jr moved up to the lead off position. He produced immediately when he led off the game with a single. An error by the right fielder put Bradley on third with no outs. Scott Wingo doubled him in. Christian Walker and Adrian Morales both reached, but no more runs were scored as Wingo and Walker were both thrown out at home. Vanderbilt tied the game in the top of the second with a solo home run from Esposito. Forrest Koumas would hold the Dores down until the sixth. With one out in the sixth Koumas gave up back to back solo home runs to Westlake and Esposito. Tyler Webb came in and quieted the rally allowing no more runs. It seemed as if Vanderbilt held all the momentum and was going to cruise to the series win until the bottom of the seventh.
Designated hitter Steven Neff hit a double to begin the rally. Vanderbilt changed pitchers, and Mooney walked. Vanderbilt changed pitchers, and Robert Beary singled when the new pitcher couldn’t field the sacrifice bunt attempt. Vanderbilt changed pitchers, and pinch hitter Greg Brodzinski was hit by a pitch to force in a run. Vanderbilt didn’t change pitchers and Jackie Bradley singled to centerfield to tie the game. Scott Wingo followed with an RBI groundout. After Christian Walker was intentionally walked, Brady Thomas hit a sac fly to plate another run. Vanderbilt again changed pitchers, and this time it worked. Matt Price, who had entered the game to begin the seventh, was asked to go the rest of the way for the Gamecocks. In the eighth Price struck out the heart of the Vanderbilt order. In the ninth, he allowed two base runners but was able to strike out Kemp to end the game and get the win.
Stars of the Series…Michael Roth…W, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 8 K, 2 BB…Matt Price…S, W, 4.2 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 11 K, 0 BB, 1 HBP…John Taylor…2.2 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 H…Scott Wingo…5-10, 3 RBI…Brady Thomas…3-9, 3 RBI, HR…Evan Marzilli…4-9 RBI, 2 SB…
What to Take From the Weekend…Let’s look at where the Gamecocks are. They have completed half of their SEC schedule and have played the entire SEC East. They have won every series they’ve played. They are 12-3 in conference and ahead of last season’s pace. They have overcome injuries and slumps and continue winning.
The team isn’t without complaint. The offense has been lacking at some times, but so far that hasn’t mattered. The pitching has either pitched so well that the offense didn’t need much or the batting has gotten enough done at the plate. So, at this point, all of the worries or concerns about the bats haven’t come to fruition. As of yet, the batting issues remain only an ephemeral worry not a concrete problem that is causing the team to lose games or series.
Right now this team is just winning. This season feels like an extension of last year’s post season run. Enjoy it because seasons like this and teams like this don’t come around all that often.
This and That…South Carolina is now 28-7, 12-3…The Gamecocks lead the SEC East and the SEC overall by themselves…USC has played everyone in the East, and holds the tiebreaker against all of them…Hits…SC 26, VU 21…Runs…SC 12 VU 10…LOB…SC 26 VU 20…Double Plays…SC 4 VU 0…Scott Wingo now has a 12 game hitting streak…
Up Next… The Gamecocks get back on the road on Tuesday to play at the College of Charleston. They then head to Starkville to take on Mississippi State for the weekend series. The Friday night game will be on ESPNU at 8:00 Eastern, and the Saturday game will be on SportSouth at 7:00 Eastern. There’s no TV for Sunday, but Andy Demetra and Tommy Moody will be broadcasting on the Gamecock Radio Network for the 2:30 first pitch.