Hoover, Ala. – Vanderbilt walked 10 batters and allowed three home runs in a 7-4 loss to South Carolina to be eliminated at the Southeastern Conference Tournament at the Hoover Met on Tuesday.
The Gamecocks (33-23) jumped on Commodores’ (33-22-1) starter Matt Ruppenthal in the first inning for two runs on a Carlos Cortes home run to right field for a quick 2-0 lead. Carolina then played long ball again in the second inning when Jonah Bride led off the inning with a solo homer to push the deficit to three runs before the Dores even had a hit.
Vandy took advantage of Carolina starter Reed Scott’s wildness in the second inning as the right-hander walked three to load the bases with two outs. Will Toffey tied the game with one swing, smashing a three-run double off the right-center field fence, narrowly missing a grand slam. Carolina, however, had an answer to start the fourth inning when Justin Row hit the Gamecocks’ third home run in as many innings off of Ruppenthal. The right-hander, settled down after walking the next batter to retire eight straight. His day ended in the fifth after back-to-back walks put two on for Carolina before Zach King could get the Dores out of the inning. King held the Gamecocks in check over 4.2 innings of relief to give Vanderbilt a chance.
Connor Kaiser cashed in on that chance in the seventh inning, hitting his first career home run out to left-center to bring the Commodores even. The Vandy offense went silent after the homer, putting only three more base runners on the rest of the game.
In the top of the 11th inning, Carolina took advantage of Reed Hayes’ wildness as the right-hander walked three batters, including Riley Hogan with the bases loaded to force in the go-ahead run. Alex Destino doubled off the right field wall to score two more runs and set the final score.
Hayes took the loss after giving up three runs on two hits in 1.2 innings. Ruppenthal allowed four runs, three earned, on four hits and four walks over 4.2 innings in a no decision. Toffey led the Vandy offense with three RBIs with Kaiser scoring two of the team’s four runs.
Tyler Johnson earned the win out of the bullpen for South Carolina, working 4.1 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. Row scored three runs and Cortes drove in two runs for the Gamecocks.