Vanderbilt fell in an early hole, but clutch hitting and solid pitching kept the Commodores in the winners' bracket at the SEC Tournament Wednesday night.
T.J. Pecoraro, Kevin Ziomek, and Will Clinard cooled off South Carolina's hot bats and Mike Yastrzemski drove in the winning run with a ballsy squeeze-play bunt to give Vandy a 3-2 win. With the victory, the 'Dores will advance to play #3 Florida on Thursday night. The win was Vanderbilt's seventh in a row. Over that span, they have defeated LSU, Ole Miss, Georgia, and now the Gamecocks.
Vandy fell behind early thanks to Tanner English's two-out, two-RBI double in the second inning. However, those were the only runs South Carolina would put across the plate as Tim Corbin's team small-balled their way back into this one. A fifth inning sacrifice fly by Vince Conde cut into the Gamecocks' lead, and Spencer Navin's two-out single an inning later tied things.
The game stayed knotted until the top of the eighth. Conde led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a textbook #Vanderbunt from Tony Kemp. Then, facing two strikes, Yastrzemski threw down a textbook suicide squeeze to bring Conde home and give the 'Dores the lead. Will Clinard took over from there, notching his fifth save of the season with two innings of scoreless relief.
Pecoraro and Kevin Ziomek combined to hold the Gamecocks to five hits over seven innings in the win. At 2-0 in the SEC Tournament, Vanderbilt has continued their push towards a #2 seed in a Regional this year - something that seemed nearly impossible just weeks into the season. They'll have a chance to pad that resume tomorrow night against Florida, a team that swept them earlier this year and seemed to have had this team's number throughout last year's run to Omaha.