As if the results of the series weren't disappointing enough, the rest of this article is sans-"cock" jokes for South Carolina. I'd imagine you can expect some of those in the comment section by our beloved Andrew.
GAME ONE: Vanderbilt 12, South Carolina 0
April 16, 2015
Look, I’ll never get tired of writing about Carson Fulmer dealing. He threw seven innings but only struck out nine *gasp* in Thursday’s series opener against South Carolina. Collin Snider and Aubrey McCarty pitched the eighth and ninth innings respectively, preserving the shutout. The three pitchers limited the South Carolina bench to only three hits.
It’s easy to get behind Fulmer with the bats, but the powerhouses didn’t start until the later innings. Nonetheless, Vanderbilt scored once in the top of the first and that was all they needed. It wasn’t until the sixth inning that the offense came to the plate again, and the next 11 runs came in the final four frames (four in the 6th, four in the 7th, one in the 8th and two in the 9th). Ro Coleman hit his second career home run in the seventh inning to start another four-run rally. Coleman led the offense with four hits in six at-bats, with Reynolds following closely behind with three hits in four at-bats.
South Carolina threw six pitchers and couldn’t keep the Commodores off the board after the first five frames.
GAME TWO: South Carolina 5, Vanderbilt 2
April 17, 2015
Walker Buehler started game two and it seemed like a harmless match-up until he gave up a two-run shot in the third. Despite the would-be minor blip, Buehler continued to pitch well into the seventh, after Vanderbilt tied up the game with a two-run single by Wiseman, but couldn’t hold of a South Carolina late-inning rally.
Pfiefer relieved Buehler on the mound and allowed another run to score to make it 4-2 South Carolina. Bowden then relieved Pfiefer and let up the final run scored by the Gamecocks in the eighth, and Vanderbilt couldn’t overcome. South Carolina won 5-2, with Wiseman getting the only two RBI for the Commodores.
GAME THREE: South Carolina 3, Vanderbilt 2
April 18, 2015
Things seemed to go well for the Commodores to start the game. Jeren Kendall hit a solo home run in the second inning to put the Dores on the board early, and he came around to score again in the fourth on a wild pitch. The Commodores cruised into the sixth inning with a 2-0 lead over the Commodores.
But Kilichowski started to falter when he hit a South Carolina batter to lead off the sixth. The Gamecocks capitalized on the starting pitcher’s mistakes and cut the lead in half before eventually scoring two more runs that inning. Kilichowski was relieved by Kyle Wright, and Jordan Sheffield and Phil Pfiefer finished the last two innings.
The Dores bats threatened in the seventh but couldn’t come through, as the next eight batters were retired by South Carolina’s closer.
I suppose some optimistic people are going to say, "You can’t win every series." But this is two series. Two conference series. In a row. Personally, I believe Vanderbilt is better than these teams. But that’s why we love baseball, right? Right??
The Vanderbilt losses are shaking up the SEC standings and the tournament seeds for sure, but I don’t see this affecting Vanderbilt’s playoff potential. I couldn’t tell you what needs to change for this Vanderbilt team to become the dominating team we’re used to seeing again. Maybe the problem is we’re changing too much trying to get back to it.
Pitching needs to settle down. I understand there are injuries on staff, but the only constant right now is Carson Fulmer, and, when applicable, Phil Pfiefer (only if he’s pitching after Carson Fulmer). Buehler does well until he doesn’t. The good news is, there doesn’t seem to be a confidence issue: the players seem confident in their pitching and the pitchers seem confident in the offense. They just both need to come out to play, every game.
Pitcher of the Week: Carson Fulmer
Do I even need to write this anymore?
Player of the Week: Ro Coleman
Ro Coleman scored his second career home run against South Carolina this weekend, and he didn’t do too shabby offensively in the series, either. On Thursday, he went 4-for-6 with two RBI and two runs scored. On Friday, Ro went 2-for-5 with one run scored while Wiseman picked up the only two RBI. Saturday was Coleman’s only quiet day, but five batters made up seven hits for that game. Aside from Saturday, Coleman came up with hits and runs when he needed to, and when his teammates could run him in.
The Commodores play at home again taking on Middle Tennessee State University on Tuesday, April 21, with first pitch at 6:30 pm. Vanderbilt then hosts Missouri on a normally scheduled weekend series, starting Friday, April 24th at 6:30 pm. Saturday’s game will begin at 2 pm while Sunday’s start time is at 1 pm. All games will be televised only on SEC Network+.