What a Difference a Day Makes; VU 8, SC 2

Jack Armstrong (VM/Don Yates)

It is truly amazing sometimes to see what a difference a day makes, especially with a young group of baseball players. South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner was sitting on 999 career wins and will have to put away the cake and champagne for another day.

This was a game that Vanderbilt took charge of early with their bats and sealed the contest with their pitching. Coming off of a 3 hit performance on Friday, the Commodores put up 14 hits on Saturday

For the second straight day, Vanderbilt was stellar from the mound. Jack Armstrong started and went 8 innings. He effectively mixed his 95 mph fastball with a nasty curve and changeup. Armstrong had a no hitter through 3 innings and spread out 7 South Carolina hits, allowing only 2 runs, with only one being an earned run. He walked 2 and struck out 4. Chase Reid closed out the ninth with 2 strikeouts, 1 hit, and no runs. Armstrong gets the win and goes to 5-0 on the year.

The awakening of the Vanderbilt offense may have been just as important as the performances on the mound. Bryan Johns, Aaron Westlake, Joe Loftus, Connor Harrell, and Mike Yastrzemski all had 2 hits on the day. Anthony Gomez only had 1 hit on the day but it blew the game open. With runners on second and third, Gomez took a pitch to the opposite field which hugged the right field line for a double and 2 big RBIs. Harrell and Loftus also recorded 2 RBIs on the day.

Aaron Westlake really flashed the leather at first, making 2 nice snags that recorded 2 important outs. On one play he dived to catch a line drive with a man on first and reached to tag the runner but just missed doubling him off. Connor Harrell had the only error of the game as he bobbled a drive down the left field line.

South Carolina's Whit Merrifield extended his 18 game hitting streak in the fifth inning, knocking in 1 of USC's 2 runs. SC's No. 9 hitter, Scott Wingo, also singled in the SC fifth and drove in their only other run of the game. Sam Dyson only lasted 2 2/3 innings on the mound but gave up 6 earned runs and took the loss to go to 2-2 on the year. Jose Mata relieved Dyson and threw 4 2/3 of scoreless innings. Mata's sidearm delivery never broke 79 mph but seemed to keep Vanderbilt on their heels. Nolan Belcher closed the game for the Yardcocks, pitching the final 2/3 innings but giving up 2 earned runs.

This game proved to be very important for the Commodores. After VU's win, UT helped the Commodores by beating UF. Thus Vanderbilt now sits 2 games behind SC and 1 game behind UF in the tough SEC East. The rubber game of the VU-SC series will take place Sunday at 1 PM CST. Coach Corbin confirmed that Taylor Hill will get the start on Sunday. Vanderbilt has only used 3 pitchers so far in this series. Vandy has a very well rested bullpen so expect all hands on deck in an effort to get the series win on Sunday.

POST GAME INTERVIEWS

TIM CORBIN


JACK ARMSTRONG

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