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April 10, 2010

Box Score

Nashville, Tenn. – Vanderbilt jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first three innings and starting pitcher Jack Armstrong worked eight strong innings and allowed just one earned run as the Commodores defeated the Gamecocks 8-2 to even up a three-game SEC baseball series. South Carolina is now 24-7 and 8-3 in the SEC with Vanderbilt at 26-7 and 6-5 in conference play. The rubber game is set for 2 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon at Hawkins Field with senior RHP Jay Brown (1-0, 3.79 ERA) on the hill for Carolina and junior RHP Taylor Hill (3-2, 3.95 ERA) on the mound for Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt belted out 14 hits in a winning cause as five players tallied two hits apiece. Bryan Johns, Aaron Westlake, Joe Loftus, Connor Harrell and Mike Yastrzemski led the way for Vandy. Loftus, Harrell and Yastrzemski also drove in two runs apiece as well. Jackie Bradley Jr. had two of the Gamecocks’ seven hits in the loss. Whit Merrifield extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a base hit and now has hit safely in 30 of 31 games on the year.

Armstrong improved to 5-0 and was effective all day on the mound for Vandy. He allowed two runs, one earned on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks in eight innings of work. Chase Reid closed out the game with one inning of relief and a pair of strikeouts. Gamecock starter Sam Dyson suffered the loss and is now 2-2 for the year. He lasted only 2.2 innings and allowed six runs on eight hits with three strikeouts.

The Commodores took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Loftus led off with a single and after stealing second base scored on Harrell’s RBI base hit to right field. The Commodores would touch Dyson for five more runs in the bottom of the third inning to increase the advantage to 6-0. Bryan Johns opened the frame with a single and Aaron Westlake reached with a base hit to give Vanderbilt a pair of runners. After a sacrifice bunt advanced both runners into scoring position, Jason Esposito would be hit by pitch to load the bases. It would be Loftus who would come through in the clutch for Vandy as he knocked a base hit through the hole into right field scoring both Johns and Westlake. With two outs Anthony Gomez knocked a hard hit double down the right field line and past a diving first baseman Jeffery Jones that scored two more runs and ended the day for Dyson.

Carolina scratched across a couple of runs in the top of the fifth inning. Nick Ebert was hit by a pitch with one out that was followed by a single from Bobby Haney and a RBI base hit off the bat of Scott Wingo. Whit Merrifield would also drive in a run as he ripped a RBI single to left field scoring Haney. Armstrong worked out of a first and third jam though as he induced Jackie Bradley Jr. to hit into a 6-3 double play keeping the Gamecocks behind four runs.

Carolina stayed close to the Commodores on the backs of a quality effort by junior right-hander Jose Mata. The Gamecock reliever hurled 4.2 scoreless innings of relief and allowed just four hits and one walk while striking out a pair of batters to keep the Gamecocks within reach.

Vanderbilt got some important insurance in the bottom of the eighth inning against Gamecock reliever Nolan Belcher. With two outs and runners on second and third base, Belcher issued a wild pitch that saw Riley Reynolds score and Esposito knocked a RBI base hit to right field that extended the Vanderbilt lead to 8-2.