Against Florida two weeks ago, Vanderbilt stranded three runners on third with less than two outs in game winning situations. Against South Carolina in the SEC Tournament, they left no doubt.
Coach Tim Corbin dialed up a pair of squeeze plays that led to four important insurance runs in the ninth inning, and Navery Moore secured that lead to improve the 'Dores to 2-0 in tournament play. Moore, Will Clinard, and Corey Williams worked together to strand five Carolina runners on the basepaths after 6.1 solid innings from starter Sonny Gray.
After a pair of shaky innings in relief, the 'Dores needed some insurance runs to deflate South Carolina's blossoming momentum. An Anthony Gomez single led off the ninth, and a wild pitch and seeing-eye-pop-up-bunt (those exist) from Aaron Westlake moved runners to the corners with no outs. After Curt Casali popped out, Mike Yastrzemski's safety squeeze scored Gomez. Jason Esposito's single scored another run before Conrad Gregor's squeeze play pushed the Vandy lead to four runs. A Riley Reynolds single capped off the scoring one batter later.
The entire lineup contributed on offense, with every starter but Connor Harrell delivering a hit for the Commodores. Mike Yastrzemski and Conrad Gregor each had a pair of RBI in the win. Gray earned the win on the mound, striking out seven and allowing just five hits and two runs in 6.1 innings.
Vanderbilt will go on to face the winner of Alabama/Arkansas in a game that will help determine the SEC Tournament finals. The teams will square off bright and early at 9:30 on Saturday morning. Consider it appointment hangover viewing for any Commodore fan, as Grayson Garvin will be looking to propel the 'Dores to the national #1 seed with a big performance.