NASHVILLE, Tenn. – No. 3 Vanderbilt rallied late on Saturday afternoon at a sold out Hawkins Field to clinch the series vs. No. 5 South Carolina with a 10-6 win.
A Gamecocks (24-5, 7-2) two-run, two-out home run in the first inning put the Commodores (23-5, 6-3) in an early hole right out of the gate but the Dores battled back to scratch out a run in the bottom of the frame on an Alonzo Jones RBI-single to stay close. Two more two-out runs for South Carolina stretched the Vanderbilt deficit in the fifth but the Commodores answered in a game-changing way in the bottom of the inning.
Back-to-back doubles from Ro Coleman and Jeren Kendall opened the frame with Kendall’s scoring Coleman to bring VU back within two runs. Jones came up big again with the Commodores’ third double of the inning, getting an assist from the wind as right fielder TJ Hopkins over ran the fly ball down the right field line to score Kendall. With runners on second and third, Ethan Paul’s fly ball to left field was dropped allowing Bryan Reynolds to score to tie the game and set up Penn Murfee. The sophomore delivered, banging a two-run double off the center field wall to give Vanderbilt its first lead of the afternoon.
That lead, however, was short-lived as another South Carolina two-out, two-run homer in the sixth from DC Arendas tied the game again. Kendall quickly changed that in the bottom of the inning when he launched his fifth home run of the season over the bleachers in right-center field to send the Dores back in front. Vanderbilt finally took control of the game in the seventh scratching out three runs.
Murfee’s RBI-single up the middle scored Will Toffey to extend the lead and put two runners aboard. A balk moved both runners into scoring position for Tyler Campbell. Facing a 1-1 pitch, the senior laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to score Paul from third and Murfee from second on a wheel play for a two-run sacrifice bunt.
Lefty Ben Bowden entered in the seventh inning with two runners aboard to protect a one-run lead. Bowden’s first pitch was lined right at Campbell to end the threat and set up the Commodores to blow the game open in the bottom of the inning. Bowden finished off his team-best fourth save by striking out the side in the eighth and ninth.
The victory gives Vanderbilt its sixth series win of the season and runs the Commodores’ home record to 17-3 on the season. Murfee’s three RBI led the way for VU with Jones and Kendall each driving in two runs with two hits. Matt Ruppenthal picked up the win with 2.1 innings of relief allowing two runs on three hits. Hayden Stone gave up four runs on two hits with seven strikeouts over 4.1 innings in his second start of the season.
Arendas led Carolina with two hits, two runs and two RBI with Dom Thompson-Williams driving in two more runs with two hits. Tyler Johnson took the loss allowing five runs, four earned, on four hits over three innings of relief.