March 31, 2016
NASHVILLE, TENN. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” Third ranked Vanderbilt scored four runs in the first inning and Jordan Sheffield struck out nine in seven innings of work as the Commodores defeated second ranked South Carolina 6-3 on Thursday night at Hawkins Field. Vanderbilt is now 22-4 and 5-2 in the SEC and South Carolina is 23-4 and 6-1 in league play.
Gamecock starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt pitched his first career complete game despite the loss. He allowed six runs, four earned, on eight hits in eight innings with a walk and nine strikeouts. He is 6-1 on the year. Sheffield improved to 4-1 with three runs allowed, two earned, on five hits with three walks. Vandy reliever Ben Bowden pitched two scoreless innings of relief with three strikeouts to earn his third save of the year.
Vanderbilt jumped ahead 4-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Ro Coleman led off with a single, Jeren Kendall walked and Bryan Reynolds reached base on a fielding error by first baseman LT Tolbert. Alonzo Jones would put the Commodores ahead with a two-run double down the left field line. Jason Delay would drive in the third run with a RBI single followed by a double play that scored Jones.
The Gamecocks got one back in the fourth taking advantage of a Vanderbilt error. John Jones led off the inning with a double to right-center, just missing a home run. He would score with two outs as Jonah Bride reached base on a throwing error by Vanderbilt shortstop Tyler Campbell. Vandy added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings with Jones knocking in his third run of the game with a two-out base hit in the fifth and Ethan Paul hitting a solo homer.
Carolina kept fighting though and scored a pair in the top of the seventh inning. TJ Hopkins led off with a double to the gap in right-center and DC Arendas singled to center to give the Gamecocks a pair of runners with no outs. Marcus Mooney would lift a sac fly to right to score Hopkins. After a Gene Cone single gave the Gamecocks runners on the corners, Tolbert would drive in Arendas with a RBI groundout to second base.
The four-run first inning gave the Commodores an early cushion that they would not relinquish.
South Carolina struck out 12 times with seven ending an inning.
Clarke Schmidt has 28 strikeouts in three SEC contests.
John Jones had a multi-hit game going 2-for-4 with a run scored. He now leads the team with 13 multi-hit contests.
Madison Stokes made his first appearance of the season pinch-hitting in the ninth inning.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
“(Jordan) Sheffield the way he was throwing tonight, that was very impressive. We’ve seen some good guys throw up here; Sonny Gray, some other big leaguers, that was as impressive a performance that I’ve seen from a stuff standpoint. Word out (there was), he may walk a few and you may get some guys in scoring position, but he had great command tonight.”
“Our guys battled and competed. We got off to a tough start, down 4-0 before we really broke a sweat. After that we settled down. It was two good teams with two good arms. After (being) down 4-0, (for Clarke) to finish the game for us really helps us out for the rest of the weekend for the depth of our bullpen. Clarke gave us a shot in the arm.”
Game two of the series is set for Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Hawkins Field. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network Plus and can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”