Second seeded USC followed the lead of top seeded LSU and lost Wednesday in day two of the SEC Tournament in Hoover, AL. The Gamecocks fell to Vanderbilt 3-2 and will face Auburn Thursday afternoon at 5:30 EDT hoping to avoid an early elimination. Michael Roth will start for the Gamecocks who swept the regular season series from the Tigers. USC will be the visiting team.
The Gamecocks fall to 39-16 and suffered a setback in their efforts to gain a top eight national seed for the NCAA Tournament. Vanderbilt improved to 31-25.
The Gamecocks won two of three from the Commodores in the regular season but have now lost five straight to the men from Nashville in the SEC Tournament.
Since winning the event in 2004, the Gamecocks are 7-15 in SEC tournament play.
The Commodores broke a 2-2 tie in the 8th with a leadoff double by the #9 hitter Vince Conde and two sacrifice bunts. Mike Yastrzemski put down the second bunt with one out, a suicide squeeze with two strikes. Pitcher Tyler Webb fielded the ball but had no play at the plate. In fact, his throw to first pulled Christian Walker off the bag for an error.
AUDIO: Tyler Webb [1:41]
AUDIO: Grayson Greiner [:53]
AUDIO: Ray Tanner [3:01]
With a 3-2 lead, Will Clinard set the Gamecocks down in order in the bottom of the 9th on two fly balls to left and a ground out to third. Clinard earned his 5th save. The win went to reliever Kevin Ziomek (5-6) who pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh innings. Webb (5-1) took the loss in relief of starter Jordan Montgomery.
AUDIO: Jordan Montgomery [:30]
After taking a 2-0 lead in the second, the Gamecocks squandered several scoring opportunities. They left two runners on in the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 8th innings and were 0-7 with runners in scoring position after scoring their two runs.
Their last chance to take the lead was in the 8th. With two outs, Chase Vargason walked and went to second on a single to left by Tanner English. But Evan Marzilli ended the threat with his third consecutive strike out.
The Gamecocks took the early lead scoring two runs in the bottom of the 2nd. With two outs, Grayson Greiner doubled down the left field line. Kyle Martin legged out an infield single to short with Greiner holding at third. Vargason was hit by a pitch to load the bases. And English drove home the two runs with a single to left.
Vandy started its comeback in the 5th. Connor Harrell led off with a double, went to third on a fly out to deep center by Chris Harvey, and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Vince Conde.
Webb replaced Montgomery to start the sixth and gave up a leadoff single to Yastrzemski who was sacrificed to second. Conrad Gregor struck out for the second out of the inning but Spencer Navin singled to right to score the tieing run.
Vanderbilt will play Florida tomorrow night with the winner getting a bye into Saturday. Florida was off on Wednesday.
Other games from Wednesday…Ole Miss eliminated Arkansas 2-0, Mississippi State downed LSU 3-2, and Auburn eliminated Georgia 3-2.
LSU will face Ole Miss in an elimination game Thursday morning. Kentucky and Mississippi State will follow in a winners bracket game. The winner advances to Saturday. USC and Auburn will be next at 5:30 in an elimination game followed by the Florida-Vanderbilt game.