COLUMBIA -- Despite runs in the eighth and ninth innings, ninth-ranked South Carolina (33-13, 13-9 SEC) fell 3-2 to top-ranked Vanderbilt (40-6, 20-2) Friday night at Carolina Stadium in the first game of a three-game series.
Commodore pitcher Kevin Ziomek earned the win and improved to 9-2 on the season. He pitched eight innings and allowed one run on eight hits. He had four strikeouts and no walks.
South Carolina starter Nolan Belcher took the loss and is now 6-5 on the year. He allowed three runs on six hits in six innings. He posted six strikeouts and one walk.
Vanderbilt opened the scoring in the top of the second inning. Vince Conde kept them alive with a two-out single through the left side. That set up Spencer Navin, who then knocked a two- run home run over the left field fence giving Vanderbilt a 2-0 advantage.
LB Dantzler opened the bottom of the second with a single to shallow right center, the first Gamecock to reach base on the night. The hit extended Dantzler's hitting streak to nine, and he has reached base safely in 23 games.
The Gamecocks looked to score in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Joey Pankake got on base with a single. Dantzler continued the momentum, pushing one past the first baseman to put runners on the corners. Grayson Greiner then ripped a line drive towards the right side, but had it was snagged by a leaping Tony Kemp, the Vanderbilt second baseman. Max Schrock followed with a hard grounder up the middle that was thwarted on a great play by shortstop Vince Conde to get Dantzler at second on a fielder's choice.
The Commodores extended their lead to 3-0 in the sixth. Yastrzemski reached on a walk then advanced to second on a wild pitch with one out. Conrad Gregor hit a two-out single up the middle to score Yastrzemski.
The Gamecocks fought back in the last two innings, scoring two runs and cutting the Vanderbilt lead to one. In the eighth, Saiko knocked a double to right field with one out. Then Pankake hit a two-out double to left-center scoring Saiko. In the ninth, Kyle Martin entered to pinch hit and drilled a solo home run into the Gamecock bullpen in right center. The home run was Martin's first home run of the season, second of his career.
South Carolina had nine hits with Vanderbilt finishing with eight. Pankake and Dantzler both had two hits to lead the Gamecocks. Navin was 2 for 4 to lead Vanderbilt.
The series continues at noon Saturday.