Vanderbilt (46-9) broke open a one run game by scoring four runs in the top of the 9th in defeating top ranked and #1 seed USC (45-13) 7-2 Thursday night in day two of the SEC Tournament in Hoover, AL. With the victory, Vanderbilt joins Florida in the respective winner’s brackets. Those two teams will be off Friday. Alabama plays Arkansas and USC meets Georgia in elimination games Friday.
The Commodores took a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning. They got runners to first and third with no one out against reliever Tyler Webb. With one out and with Jose Mata on the mound, Vandy’s Mike Yastrzemski laid down a perfect squeeze bunt for a 4-2 lead. A single by Jason Esposito plated the 5th run.
Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin kept his foot on the gas ordering another squeeze and Conrad Gregor followed through to make it a 6-2 game. An RBI single by Riley Reynolds capped the outburst. The Gamecocks went quietly in their half of the 9th.
As they did in Wednesday’s win over Auburn, the Gamecocks put themselves in an early hole. Scott Wingo failed to turn a bases loaded ground ball into a double play and that led to two first inning runs. The Gamecocks got on the board in the second on an RBI ground out by Jake Williams. Vandy went up 3-1 in the third and the Gamecocks answered with a run in the fourth on a single by Adrian Morales.
USC lost catcher Brady Thomas to a sprained ankle in the second inning. Thomas felt some unusual pain the ankle while batting the second. X-rays were negative but coach Ray Tanner was not optimistic about his availability for Friday’s game.
The Gamecocks will face Georgia Friday night with a tentative start time of 7:30 PM Eastern. Junior righthander Colby Holmes (6-2, 3.46) will start for USC. Sophomore lefthander Blake Dieterich (2-3, 3.51) will start for the Bulldogs. USC took two of three from the Bulldogs in the first SEC series of the season.
Georgia (29-29) stayed alive in the tournament with a 3-2 win over Auburn. The Bulldogs rallied from a 2-0 deficit scoring three runs in the 6th. Alex Wood tossed a complete game seven hitter. The Bulldogs must win at least two more games in the tournament to be eligible for an NCAA Tournament bid.
Also in the SEC Tournament Thursday, Arkansas (37-19) eliminated Mississippi State (34-23) 7-2 and Florida 43-15) shutout Alabama (33-25) 6-0. In that game, Hudson Randall allowed just four hits over eight innings in earning his 9th win.