SEC coaches in the pre-season picked Vanderbilt to win the SEC East this season. Saturday the Commodores proved the coaches right with a 5-2 win over USC that clinched the division title. The Commodores are 21-2 in SEC play with 7 league games remaining. That’s the best record after 23 games in league history.
They improved to 41-6 overall and defeated the Gamecocks in a series for the first time since 2008. USC drops to 13-10 in the league and 33-14 overall. The Gamecocks remain in second place in the SEC East and in fourth place in the league overall. The top four teams will get a bye into the second day of this month’s SEC Tournament.
Vanderbilt’s pitching was the story of the game. Starter Tyler Beede took a perfect game into the fifth inning. He left in the seventh after giving up two runs on two hits. Carson Fulmer closed it out for the Commodores yielding just one hit. Beede improved his record to 12-0, the best start in school history. Fulmer picked up his 4th save.
The Commodores scored all the runs they needed in the third off Gamecock starter and loser Jordan Montgomery (3-1). Jack Lupo, the #9 hitter, delivered a two run single and later scored on a ground ball to third.
The Commodores tacked on single runs in the third and seventh innings to lead 5-0 going to the bottom of the seventh. That’s when the Gamecocks finally made some noise off Beede. Max Schrock drove in a run with a single to center field. After striking out Grayson Greiner for the first out of the inning, Beede was pulled for Fulmer. With two outs, Sean Sullivan singled to make it a 5-2 game but Fulmer got out of the inning by inducing Tanner English to ground to short. And that was the last scoring threat for the Gamecocks.
USC will try to avoid the sweep Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium. The game time has been moved up to Noon because of the threat of rain. Freshman Jack Wynkoop will start for the Gamecocks against junior righthander TJ Pecoraro.