No. 8 South Carolina (23-6, 7-2 SEC) at No. 19 Vanderbilt (25-6, 5-4)
Friday, April 9 6 p.m. CT
Saturday, April 10 2 p.m. CT
Sunday, April 11 1 p.m. CT
Hawkins Field (3,700)
Series History vs. South Carolina
South Carolina leads all-time 40-17 in a series that dates back to 1992. The Commodores have won four of the last five series going back to 2005. Last season the Gamecocks swept the regular season series in Columbia, with the Commodores winning a contest at the SEC Tournament.
Last Two Years
May 21, 2009: Vanderbilt 5, South Carolina 4 (Hoover, Ala.)
May 3, 2009: South Carolina 11, Vanderbilt 3 (Columbia)
May 2, 2009: South Carolina 14, Vanderbilt 5 (Columbia)
May 1, 2009: South Carolina 8, Vanderbilt 5 (Columbia)
May 23, 2008: Vanderbilt 7, South Carolina 5 (Hoover, Ala.)
March 16, 2008: Vanderbilt 10, South Carolina 4 (Nashville)
March 15, 2008: South Carolina 16, Vanderbilt 7 (Nashville)
March 14, 2008: Vanderbilt 4, South Carolina 3 (13) (Nashville)
Vanderbilt is ranked No. 19 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll and by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, No. 20 in Baseball America, No. 23 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 24 by Rivals.com. South Carolina is ranked No. 8 in Collegiate Baseball, No. 11 by Baseball America, No. 12 by Rivals.com, No. 16 by the NCBWA and No. 17 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.
VU's Tim Corbin is 301-163 in his eighth season in Nashville. He is 407-301 in 14 seasons overall. Corbin is 12-14 against South Carolina. SC's Ray Tanner is 603-272 in his 14th season as head coach of the Gamecocks. He is 998-445-3 in 23 seasons as a head coach overall. He is 31-13 against Vanderbilt.
All of Vanderbilt's games this weekend can be heard in Nashville on 560 AM WNSR. Fans can also watch the games via the internet at www.vucommodores.com. Joe Fisher will call this weekend's action. Fans can sign up for text updates via www.twitter.com/vandybaseball and follow livestats for every game through www.vucommodores.com.
Single game tickets are available for purchase online at www.vucommodores.com or through the Vanderbilt Ticket Office (615) 322-GOLD.
What's On Tap
Vanderbilt continues its eight-game home stand this weekend with a pivotal Southeastern Conference series against Eastern Division leader South Carolina. The Commodores and Gamecocks will open the set on Friday at 6 p.m. and will continue on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Single game tickets are available through the Vanderbilt Athletic Ticket Office at (615) 322-GOLD or on-line at www.vucommodores.com.
About South Carolina
South Carolina is 23-6 on the season and 7-2 in the SEC after taking two of three against Mississippi State in Columbia last weekend. The Gamecocks beat College of Charleston on Wednesday and enter the weekend having won 17 of their last 19 games after opening the year at 6-4.
SC has been led offensively sophomore outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. who is hitting .360 in 26 games. Junior outfielder Whit Merrifield is second on the team with a .350 batting average and leads the squad with six homers and 22 RBI. As a team the Gamecocks are hitting at a .305 clip with 35 homers, 60 doubles and 228 run scored in 29 games (7.9 per game).
South Carolina's rotation for the weekend will be senior right-hander Blake Cooper (5-0, 3.11 ERA) on Friday and junior right-hander Sam Dyson (2-1, 4.79 ERA) on Saturday. Sunday's starter is to be determined. Freshman right-hander Matt Price (3-0, 1.40 ERA) is the top reliever out of the bullpen with two saves in 11 appearances and 31 strikeouts and just five walks in 19.1 innings. The Gamecocks have a 3.46 team ERA with 294 strikeouts and 101 walks in 262.2 innings pitched.
Defensively SC has made 31 errors on the year and has a .972 fielding percentage.
Redshirt freshman southpaw Corey Williams is out for the season after breaking his right knee cap on a line drive by Florida's Austin Maddox last Saturday (April 3). He remarkably had the presence of mind to grab the ball while face down on the ground and backhand it to first, where Aaron Westlake fielded it and made the tag out.
The play has garnered national attention with over 300,000 views on You Tube and on virtually every sports blog in the country.
Williams had surgery early Monday morning with a goal to be back pitching by the end of the summer. He has also been interviewed on ESPN2's First Take and on ESPNU's Campus Connection. Some national pundits believe it is a Play of the Year candidate.
The Huntsville, Ala., had developed into one of the top hurlers out of the bullpen, making 12 relief appearances and was 1-0 with a 2.65 ERA. The southpaw had 17 strikeouts to just six walks in 17.0 innings and opponents were hitting just .215 against him.
Jack's Arm is Strong
Sophomore right-hander Jack Armstrong is coming off his finest outing as a Commodore in last Sunday's 7-0 win over Florida. The Florida native made a memorable return to his home state throwing six innings for four-hit shutout baseball against the Gators with four strikeouts to help VU salvage the final game of the series.
Armstrong has been solid on the road this season going 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA with seven strikeouts in 12.1 innings. His two wins have come against the road against Top 25 clubs Alabama and Florida.
The Commodores will look for him to translate that road success at home this weekend as he has been moved into the No. 2 role in the weekend rotation.
On the season he is 4-0 with a 3.93 ERA with 26 strikeouts and 14 walks in 41.0 innings.
Corbin Coaching Milestones
Head coach Tim Corbin notched his 400th career victory on March 24 over Wright State. He recorded his 300th at Vanderbilt against Florida on April 4. Corbin (301) is currently five wins behind Larry Schmittou (306), who is second on the school's all-time win list. The Commodores all-time wins leader is Roy Mewbourne who went 655-608-9 from 1979-2002. Corbin also had 106 victories in five seasons at Presbyterian
Third baseman Jason Esposito is having a great sophomore season at the plate, already surpassing his home run total of a year ago. As a freshman he hit .287 with four homers, 13 doubles and 42 RBI while starting in all 64 games played.
Last Sunday against Florida he had his first multi-homer game of his career with two solo shots in the Commodores 7-0 win.
This season Esposito is hitting .363 with seven homers, 11 doubles and 38 RBI. He is also the team leader with 14 stolen bases in 16 attempts.
Hit by Pitch Harris
Senior shortstop Brian Harris currently leads the nation in hit by pitches with 22 on the year. The Nashville native has been an on-base machine with 31 walks as well and has a .592 on base percentage, tops in the SEC.
He is currently second on the team in hitting at a .370 clip with three homers and 20 RBI.
A first-team All-SEC pick and All-SEC Defensive Team selection a year ago, he has also continued to play a steady short with seven errors on the year.
Gomez Tough Out
Not only is freshman infielder Anthony Gomez a tough out at the plate, with 36 hits in 71 at bats (.507) batting average, he is also tough to strikeout. The New Jersey native has struck out just once all season and currently leads the nation in that category.
He has the team's longest hitting streak this year at 14 games and in five of those games he extended the skein in just one at bat. He leads the team with a .536 batting average (15-for-28) in SEC play.
Giobbi named to Johnny Bench Award Watch List
Senior catcher Andrew Giobbi is on the official watch list for the 2010 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award.
The Portland, Maine, native has had an outstanding season thus far behind the plate, having thrown out 17 of 35 runners attempting to steal. He has also caught a pitching staff that has a stellar 3.11 team ERA, best in the SEC. Offensively he has come on strong, leading the team with a .500 batting average (21-for-42) in the last 10 games. He has seven doubles, a homer, 12 RBI, and 15 runs scored in that span. This is the second year in a row "Gio" has been named to the watch list.
The watch list will be narrowed down to the semifinalists, whom will be announced May 19, 2010. Ballots will be sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. The finalists will be announced June 2, 2010 prior to the NCAA Regionals and Major League Baseball Draft. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 13th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on July 1, 2010.
Dores Handle Belmont
Vanderbilt pounded out 15 hits and got some timely two-out hitting en route to a 12-5 win over Belmont at Hawkins Field on Tuesday.
The Commodores scored six runs in the first inning and played solid defense for its SEC leading 25th win of the year.
Offensively, the Commodores (25-6) had six players with at least two hits in the game. Jason Esposito led Vanderbilt with three hits and four RBI, including a triple and double.
Belmont got on the scoreboard first when Derek Hamblen hit a one-out solo home run to left center off of starter Drew Hayes, giving Belmont a 1-0 lead.
Vanderbilt responded quickly in the bottom half of the first when they plated six runs on seven hits while batting through the order.
Brian Harris led off the inning with a double and than advanced to third on a Riley Reynolds ground out. Aaron Westlake drove in the first run of the game an RBI-single through the right side, scoring Harris from third. After a single by Andrew Giobbi, Jason Esposito doubled to left-center scoring Giobbi and Westlake to make it 3-1. After Esposito scored, Drew Fann and Anthony Gomez recorded back-to-back singles, giving VU a 5-1 lead. Harris then drove in Fann with his second hit of the inning with an RBI-single to left-center to make it 6-1.
Belmont got one run back in the top of second when Tim Egerton led-off the inning with a solo-home run to left field.
Vanderbilt continued to lead 6-2 until the Bruins plated three runs on four hits in the top of the fourth inning. BU's Matt Zeblo led off the inning with a single and than advanced to third on Egerton's single to left. After Hayes put Vinny Casha down on strikes, Phillip Parsley drove in Zeblo with an RBI-single to shortstop. Belmont's other two runs in the inning came on two-out two-RBI double by Jared Breen. All three outs in the inning came on strikeouts by Hayes.
With VU leading 6-5, the Commodores plated three runs on three hits, all with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning to make it a 9-5 game. Harris drew a one-out walk and than advanced to third on Westlake's single. Giobbi then drove in Harris from third with an RBI-single through the left side to make the score 7-5. In the next at-bat, Esposito plated two more runs with a two-RBI triple to the right-center gap, scoring Giobbi and Westlake to extend it to 9-5.
Vanderbilt added another run in the seventh when Mike Yastrzemski launched a one-out pinch-hit RBI-double off the left-field wall, scoring Gomez from second base to make it 10-5.
The Commodores closed out the scoring in the eighth when they scored two runs on two hits to make it 12-5. Giobbi led off the inning with an eight-pitch walk and than advanced to second on Esposito's third hit of the contest with a single through the left side. VU than took advantage of two wild pitches by Matt Fanchier, allowing Giobbi to score and moving Esposito to third. After Joe Loftus grounded into a fielder's choice, Fann drove a 1-0 pitch from Fanchier to the right-center gap scoring Loftus from first.
VU starter Drew Hayes allowed five runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out seven in five innings of work.
Will Clinard and Grayson Garvin closed out the game with a combined four-innings of scoreless relief. Clinard allowed two hits in three innings of relief while Garvin closed out the game by striking out the side in the ninth.
In two appearances this season, Garvin has retired all six of the batters he's faced via strikeout.
Vanderbilt is 20-1 at home this season ... VU went 3-2 last week sweeping a midweek series against Wofford, before dropping two of three at Florida over the weekend ... VU entered last weekend on an eight-game winning streak, including a 7-0 home stand, before falling by one run to Florida ... Sophomore right-hander Jack Armstrong came up big in the series finale against the Gators, tossing six shutout innings of four-hit baseball. Richie Goodenow (1.2) and Chase Reid (1.1) closed things out with scoreless relief. It was the Commodores third shutout of the year and the first that didn't involve the combo of Sonny Gray and Corey Williams who shutout Niagara in the season opener and Kentucky on March 26 ... As a team VU batted .320 with six homers and 29 runs scored (5.8 per game) ... Andrew Giobbi had a nice week going 10-for-20 with five doubles, a homer, five RBI and seven runs scored ... Anthony Gomez was 6-for-15 (.400) with a double, five RBI and two runs scored ... Jason Esposito had his first multi-homer game of his collegiate career against Florida on Sunday with two solo blasts. He now leads the team with seven round-trippers ... Curt Casali has continued to struggle with his hamstring injury and had just one pinch-hit appearance against Wofford in the midweek. He will rest for the time being ... Sonny Gray was the tough luck loser on Friday, allowing two runs on four hits in 6.1 innings with seven strikeouts and a career high five walks. He left the game with a runner on in the seventh and the game tied at 1-1 ... Will Clinard threw four innings of three hit scoreless relief in the Commodores 7-2 win over Wofford. He struck out five while just walking one Grayson Garvin has struck out six batters in his two innings of relief work this year. With the injury to Corey Williams, he should move into the relief mix on the weekends.