Top ranked Vanderbilt broke a 3-3 tie with three runs in the fifth inning and held on to defeat third ranked South Carolina 6-4 on Saturday evening at Carolina Stadium. Saturday’s game was played in front of a sellout crowd of 8,242 fans, the second straight night with a sellout and the sixth of the season at home for the Gamecocks. The two teams will meet in the rubber game of the series on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. with the game televised live on ESPN2 with Clay Matvick, Kyle Peterson and Jenn Brown on the call.
Vanderbilt out-hit Carolina 10-7 on the evening. Tony Kemp was stellar for the Commodores with a 5-for-5 day at the plate with two runs scored. Aaron Westlake and Jason Esposito each drove in two runs. Brady Thomas was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI to lead Carolina. Evan Marzilli and Scott Wingo had two hits apiece as well.
Vanderbilt starting pitcher Grayson Garvin earned the win and is now 7-1 on the year. He allowed four runs on six hits in six innings with three strikeouts and a walk. South Carolina starting pitcher Colby Holmes suffered the loss and is now 3-1 for the season. He allowed six runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings with four strikeouts and a walk. Vanderbilt closer Navery Moore worked a scoreless ninth to pick up his eighth save of the season.
Vanderbilt went ahead 1-0 in the top of the first inning. Tony Kemp led off the game with a double and scored on Aaron Westlake’s one-out RBI ground out. They extended that lead to 2-0 in the top of the second inning on a solo home run by Mike Yastrzemski to right field, Yastrzemski’s first homer of the season.
Carolina answered in the bottom of the second inning to take a 3-2 lead. Christian Walker led off with a single and after a walk to Adam Matthews scored on Brady Thomas’ RBI base hit to right-center. With runners on the corners, Evan Marzilli knocked a RBI base hit down the left field line to tie the game at 2-2. Robert Beary would drive Thomas in with a RBI ground out to give Carolina a one-run lead. Vanderbilt tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the fourth inning as a fly ball by Jason Esposito hit to right field got into the jet stream and carried over the wall for a solo home run.
Vanderbilt would take a commanding 6-3 lead in the top of the fifth. Conrad Gregor got things started with a single up the middle and Connor Harrell was hit by a pitch with one out to put runners on first and second base. That would set the stage for Kemp, who tallied his third hit of the game with a single to centerfield loading the bases. Anthony Gomez followed with a RBI base hit to right-center that ended the evening for Holmes. With the bags still full, Aaron Westlake connected with a RBI single to right field off reliever Bryan Harper that scored Harrell. Vandy would get one more run on a walk to Mike Yastrzemski.
With the Gamecocks trailing by three runs, Carolina mounted a rally as Thomas connected with a solo home run to right field, his fourth home run of the year. South Carolina trailed 6-4 and opened the bottom of the seventh with a pair of runners as Peter Mooney walked followed by a bunt for a base hit by Wingo. Vanderbilt battled though as reliever Corey Williams struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. and reliever Jack Armstrong struck out Christian Walker and ended the threat with a lineout to left field off the bat of Adrian Morales.