Gamecocks Take Series

Vanderbilt falls to South Carolina, 8-6

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Vanderbilt baseball team fell 8-6 to South Carolina in a back-and-forth contest Saturday afternoon at Founders Park

With the loss, the Commodores move to 19-4 on the season, including a 4-2 mark in Southeastern Conference play.

The two teams traded runs most of the afternoon as Vanderbilt got out to an early lead. South Carolina scored six runs across the fourth and fifth innings before adding insurance with two runs in the seventh.

Vandy plated one in the eighth to chip away at the deficit before placing the tying run aboard in the ninth, but the Gamecocks would hold on for the victory to claim the series win.

Freshman Bryce Cunningham made his first career start for Vanderbilt on the mound. Cunningham lasted 3.1 innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits, while striking out a pair. Sophomore Hunter Owen (2-1) suffered his first loss of the season. The second-year lefty surrendered four earned runs on two hits over his one inning of work.

Vanderbilt struck first on Saturday, plating one run in the first. Davis Diaz began the scoring sequence, reaching on a one-out walk before Spencer Jones followed by reaching on a fielder’s choice. In the next at-bat, Dominic Keegan reached on a fielder’s choice, but a muffed throw by the South Carolina first baseman allowed Diaz to come across and score the game’s first run to put Vandy in front, 1-0.

The Commodores scored one more in the second. With one down, Parker Noland worked a nine-pitch walk before Calvin Hewett reached on a hit-by-pitch in the next at-bat. After Enrique Bradfield Jr. drew the second walk of the inning to load the bases, Diaz scored one run with a sacrifice fly to center to push Vandy’s lead to 2-0.

Vanderbilt added another single tally in the fourth, as Davis Diaz put himself aboard with a two-out single up the middle. One batter later, Jones lined an RBI double to the right center gap to score Diaz and make it a 3-0 contest in the Commodores’ favor.

South Carolina broke into the scoring column in the fourth, using a two-run homer to cut the Vanderbilt lead to 3-2.

The Commodores answered back with a two-run inning of their own in the fifth. The frame began with a leadoff single from Jack Bulger followed by a double by Tate Kolwyck to place runners on second and third. Two batters later, Hewett sent a ball up the middle to score two and put Vandy up, 5-2.

The Gamecocks scored four in the next half to gain the advantage. The South Carolina fifth began with back-to-back walks before a one-out single through the left side plated the first run of the frame. One batter later, a three-run homer to right center gave the Gamecocks their first lead of the day to make it a 6-5 ballgame.

South Carolina added insurance with two runs in the seventh. The inning began with a leadoff double down the left field line before an RBI single through the left side scored one. One batter later, an RBI double down the right field line scored the second run of the frame to push the Gamecocks’ lead to 8-5.

Jones connected on his fourth home run of the season in the top of the eighth with a solo shot to right field to bring the score to 8-6.

The duo of Bulger and Hewett led the Commodore offense, finishing with a team-high tying three hits apiece. Jones and Keegan each contributed multi-hit efforts and went 2-for-5.

Vanderbilt returns to action Tuesday for a matchup with Lipscomb. The Commodores and Bison are set for a 6 p.m. first pitch at First Horizon Park.