Vanderbilt continued its torrid SEC season Friday night in Columbia with a 3-2 win over USC in the opener of a series between the top two teams in the SEC East. The Commodores improve to 20-2 in the SEC and 40-6 overall with their 7th straight win and 6th straight in the league. The Gamecocks fall to 33-13 and 13-9 in league play.
Vandy took a 2-0 lead in the second off Gamecock starter and loser Nolan Belcher with a two run homer by Spencer Navin. The Gamecocks put runners on the corners with one out in the fourth but Grayson Greiner lined out to second and Max Schrock grounded to shortstop Vince Corde who made a great play behind the bag to rob Schrock of a base hit and force the runner at second.
The Commodores scored what turned out to be the winning run in the 6th on a two out RBI single up the middle by Conrad Gregor.
The Gamecocks finally got to Vanderbilt starter Kevin Zionek in the 8th on a two out RBI double to left center by Joey Pankake. LB Dantzler stranded Pankake when he was called out on a check swing by third base umpire Dennis McComb, a decision that drew the ire of the more than 8000 Gamecock fans in attendance.
Brian Miller relieved Zionek to start the bottom of the ninth. He retired the first two batters then gave up a pinch-hit homer to right to Kyle Martin, his first homer of the season. Freshman Curt Britt was sent in as a pinch-hitter as the potential game tying run but grounded out to first to end the game.
Zionek improves his record to 9-2 with the victory and Miller picks up his 13th save. Belcher drops to 6-5.
Game two of the series will be Saturday at Noon on ESPNU. Jordan Montgomery, who has to take a 9:00 AM exam Saturday morning, will start for the Gamecocks. He’s 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA. Righthander Tyler Beede will start for Vandy. He’s 11-0 with a 1.63 ERA.