USC was eliminated from the SEC baseball tournament in Hoover, AL Thursday afternoon by Vanderbilt 4-3 in ten innings. It’s the first time the Gamecocks went 0-2 in the tournament since 2010. The Gamecocks did go on to win the national championship that year. And after closing the season by losing four of their last five games against SEC teams, the Gamecocks have to be somewhat concerned about earning a host role for the NCAA regionals.
The Gamecocks fell behind 3-0 in the second inning thanks to a throwing error by pitcher Jordan Montgomery who air mailed first base on a sacrifice bunt down the third base line with runners on first and second. Both runners scored and the Commodores later added a run on a sacrifice fly.
But Montgomery settled in and dominated the Commodores until being pulled with two outs in the 8th. He gave up just five hits and none of the three runs against him were earned.
The Gamecocks chipped away at Vandy starter Kevin Ziomek scoring single runs in the third, sixth and seventh innings to tie the game. LB Dantzler delivered the equalizer in the seventh, a lead off home run just over the right field wall, his 15th home run of the season.
The Gamecocks had numerous scoring opportunities throughout the game but again the clutch hit escaped them. They finished 1-14 with runners in scoring position and left 13 on base.
The Commodores mounted their winning rally in the tenth against three Gamecock relievers. Adam Westmoreland started the inning after coming on for Montgomery in the eighth. Tony Kemp led off with a single. Righthander Patrick Sullivan was brought on to face the right handed hitting Xavier Turner, and Turner singled putting runners on the corners.
Chad Holbrook then went to closer Tyler Webb who struck out Mike Yastrzemski and then issued a free pass to Connor Harrell. Holbrook brought the infield in and Conrad Gregor slapped a ball past the drawn in Max Schrock at second base to score Kemp with the winning run.
On the play, Schrock collided with Harrell. Replay shows the ball was past the two at the point of collision. Interference was not called. Schrock did suffer a concussion leaving his availability for practice early next week in question.
Westmoreland took the loss for USC and is 7-3. The Gamecocks are now 39-18 and will learn Sunday night if they will host a regional. The entire tournament field will be announced Monday.
(LB Dantzler, Jordan Montgomery, Grayson Greiner)