Nashville, Tenn. – No. 3 Vanderbilt used a four-run first inning and a strong outing from starter Jordan Sheffield to take down No. 5 South Carolina 6-3 Thursday night at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores (22-4, 5-2) jumped on Gamecocks’ (23-4, 6-1) starter Clarke Schmidt in the first inning for four runs on three hits and never looked back. Ro Coleman lined a crisp single into left-center to get the rally going and moved to second when Jeren Kendall walked. A South Carolina error loaded the bases for Alonzo Jones and the freshman came through, bouncing a double down the third base line and into the left field corner to drive in two runs. Jason Delay followed with a perfectly placed single through the left side to make it 3-0 before Jones trotted home on a double play to cap the four-run rally.
Handed an early lead, Sheffield went to work with a 1-2-3 second inning to set the tone for the rest of the night. South Carolina took advantage of a leadoff double in the fourth to get on the board but Sheffield managed the inning to allow only the one run getting a pop up to strand a pair of runners. The right-hander allowed only a walk over the next two innings to take a 6-1 lead into the seventh. Sheffield labored through the seventh but struck out South Carolina’s John Jones for his ninth strikeout to end his night. Ben Bowden took it from there, working the final two innings to record his third save of the year.
Sheffield earned his fourth win of the year allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits with three walks and nine strikeouts. The right-hander leads the team with 60 strikeouts in 43.2 innings.
Jones led the Commodores with three RBI and two hits in the win. Fellow freshman Ethan Paul added two hits, including his second home run of the season, lining a solo shot off the light pole in right-center field. Bryan Reynolds’ third inning double pushed his on-base streak to all 26 games this season with at least one hit in 20 games.
The victory pushed Vanderbilt to 16-2 at Hawkins Field this season with the Commodores outscoring opponents 176-58.
Schmidt took his first loss of the season for South Carolina, who lost the team’s first Southeastern Conference game, despite recording his first complete game of the season. The right-hander allowed six runs, four earned, on eight hits with nine strikeouts. John Jones had two hits for the Gamecocks in the loss.
Vanderbilt and South Carolina square off tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network+. Kyle Wright gets the ball for the Commodores against Gamecocks’s right-hander Braden Webb.