Nashville, TN (WIS & The Big Spur) - By John Whittle, TheBigSpur.com
South Carolina had rallied from two big deficits in its previous three wins but a comeback wasn't in the cards on Saturday. After giving up six runs in the second inning, the Gamecocks couldn't mount a late surge and dropped the game 8-1 to even the series against Vanderbilt at a game apiece.
The Commodores (25-17, 11-9), which were retired in order on eight pitches in the first inning, sent 11 hitters to the plate in the second inning against junior Adam Hill, who gave up two walks and six hits in the frame. This time, with a big inning, the home side was able to hang onto the lead.
Offensively, the Gamecocks notched a solo home run in the top of the first inning from sophomore Carlos Cortes, but couldn't get much else accomplished. They left 10 runners on base in the game and went 3-of-16 with runners on base.
"Eight-pitch first inning and we had hit the home run," first-year head coach Mark Kingston began, "we felt like it was going to be another good day, but it just wasn't there for us."
Hill managed to go 4 1/3 and throw 99 pitches in the loss, which dropped his record to 4-5 on the season. He gave up eight hits and walked two while striking out six. His other run allowed came in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff single. Relief pitcher Ridge Chapman gave up a two-run home run to Alonzo Jones to push the Commodores' lead to 8-1.
"They were just getting a lot of barrels," Hill said. "I felt like there were some pitches were mistakes, but some pitches were good pitches and they just hit it. I was battling out there, trying to make good pitches and get outs, but they were just putting good swings on it."
South Carolina had its chances putting at least one runner on base in each of the first six innings. No Vanderbilt pitcher retired the side in order until reliever Jackson Gillis set down the Gamecocks in the seventh.
With South Carolina down five runs in the fifth inning, Cortes just missed his second home run of the game as Jones made a leaping catch at the wall in right-center field.
"I did," Cortes said when asked if he thought he had a home run off the bat. "The wind was swirling around but I thought I got it pretty good."
The Gamecocks had just one bad inning on the mound in the game, but that one was enough for the Commodores. South Carolina set down Vanderbilt's hitters in order in five of their eight innings pitched and retired the last 10 hitters in a row following Jones' home run.
"Our bullpen was good again today," Kingston said. "Ridge, besides the two-run homer he gave up, his stuff was pretty good. Lawson came in and had good stuff at the end, but you have to have good starting pitching. Adam is more than capable of doing it, but he needs to step up and do it."
The series rubber match is set for Sunday at 2 p.m. on SEC Network +. Sophomore Cody Morris will get the ball for the Gamecocks.