Columbia, S.C. (VUAD)– Vanderbilt took an early lead on Thursday night against No. 12 South Carolina and held on late for a 7-6 victory in the series opener at Founders Park.
The Commodores (20-11, 5-5) struck first in the second inning with three straight singles from Will Toffey, Walker Grisanti and Jason Delay plus a sacrifice fly from Harrison Ray to make it 2-0 early. The Dores blew the game open with a three-run fifth inning to push the Vandy lead to 6-1. Jeren Kendall led off the inning with a single, stole second base and moved to third on a groundout. Another grounder sent Kendall towards home but the Gamecocks (20-9, 6-4) threw home to force Kendall into a rundown. VU caught a break when Kendall ran into South Carolina third baseman Jonah Bride, who was called for interference that allowed Kendall to score. After a walk put two runners aboard, Delay delivered his first career triple to left-center field to cap the three run rally.
Infante later added a massive solo home run to left field in the seventh inning to pad the VU lead to five runs, that run proved to be very important.
Handed an early lead, Vanderbilt starter Patrick Raby gave a run back in the second inning when a leadoff double came around to score and cut the VU lead in half. The right-hander worked himself into trouble again in the third with a walk and a double that put a pair of runners in scoring position but he bounced back to strike out the side. Raby held South Carolina in check from there, wrapping up his outing with a 1-2-3 seventh and handing the ball off to the bullpen.
Collin Snider found trouble quickly in the eighth when Alonzo Jones failed to field a ground ball that allowed the leadoff man to reach. After a strikeout, Chris Cullen singled to put two runners on in front of LT Tolbert. The Gamecocks’ second baseman made things interesting with one swing, belting a three-run shot to right field to pull the home team within two runs. Jacob Olson followed with a double to chase Snider. Zach King finished off the inning but not before allowing Olson to score and send the game to the ninth with the Commodores clinging to a one-run lead.
Reed Hayes finished off the win in the ninth to notch his fifth save. The right-hander walked the leadoff man but recovered to get the next three batters in order to seal Vandy’s 20th win of the season. Raby earned his fifth win with seven solid innings, allowing two runs on eight hits with six strikeouts.
Delay paced the Commodores’ offense with three hits and three RBIs, finishing a home run shy of the cycle. Kendall and Grisanti chipped in two hits each as part of the Dores’ 11-hit attack.
South Carolina starter Wil Crowe took the loss after giving up seven runs, four earned, on 11 hits across 6.2 innings.
The two teams meet tomorrow night at 6 p.m. on ESPNU. Kyle Wright gets the ball for the Commodores against South Carolina’s Clarke Schmidt.