NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Vanderbilt baseball team, 15 games into the 2021 season, will find out this weekend how much it has prepared itself for the always-daunting SEC schedule.
Vandy (13-2) welcomes South Carolina for a three-game series starting Friday for the first of 10 different SEC matchups. The Commodores and Gamecocks are scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday (on SEC Network) and at 1 p.m. Sunday at Hawkins Field.
Head coach Tim Corbin’s team is fresh off a 4-1 win over Belmont on Tuesday, its eighth win in a row at home. That victory also helped to somewhat wash out the bad taste of a 10-6 loss at Oklahoma State on Sunday.
— Vanderbilt Baseball (@VandyBoys) March 17, 2021
Vandy took 2 of 3 from the Cowboys in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in what was the program’s first major test of 2021.
“I think any time you play an opponent that you deem to be quality – this one from a standpoint of proven, good, Regional team, College World Series team – and you go there and have some type of success than I do think it helps carry some inner-baseball, self-esteem, team confidence, what have you, as you go forward,” Corbin said.
Vanderbilt hadn’t left West End until it went west to face Oklahoma State. And after a rainout Friday, the Dores asserted their dominance with wins of 5-0 and 18-4, respectively, in a Saturday doubleheader.
Even in Sunday’s 10-6 loss, Vanderbilt battled back from down 8-0 to make it a 9-6 game before the comeback fizzled out.
“I think it was a good weekend for us, overall, just seeing some better pitching than we have been and some better hitters for our pitchers,” Vanderbilt sophomore Carter Young said. “We just learned from it so we could roll on and move into SEC play.”
South Carolina (11-4) heads to Nashville on a four-game losing streak. The Gamecocks were 11-0 before dropping three at Texas over the weekend and then returning home where they lost 9-4 to Davidson on Tuesday.
Coach Mark Kingston’s team has hit 23 home runs already and South Carolina pitching has struck out 192 batters. Junior catcher Wes Clarke is the nation’s leader in home runs (10), has scored 23 runs and is slugging .964.
Vanderbilt trails the series with South Carolina 58-36 but is 8-4 in the last 12 meetings.
— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com.
Follow him @MrChadBishop.