#2 South Carolina sweeps VMI
The VMI Keydets took the #2 South Carolina Gamecocks to the limit once again Saturday, dropping a 3-2 decision to the hosts in the opener of a doubleheader in Columbia, S.C. before losing game two, 13-1.
In the opener, it was a sixth-inning run that proved to be VMI’s (0-3) undoing, as a two-out rally proved to be the Keydets’ undoing. With two down, shortstop Joey Pankake singled on a 3-1 pitch from freshman Reed Garrett (0-1). Catcher Dante Rosenberg then doubled to left, scoring Pankake and making it a 3-2 game, a margin that would hold up over the final three frames.
Game two saw Jeremy Brown (0-1) allow just one run over three innings, and leave with VMI trailing 1-0. With Brown out of the game in the fourth, however, a key VMI throwing error on a Gamecock (3-0) bunt attempt would lead to five unearned runs in a seven-run frame. The hosts added five additional runs late, before a Chase Worthington RBI double in the ninth broke up the shutout.
Both VMI starters pitched well, as Brown scattered four hits over his three innings in the finale, after Campbell Henkel, a member of the 2011 Waynesboro Generals Valley League team, surrendered two runs, one earned, over four frames in game one. Reed Garrett allowed four hits and a run in his four frames of work in that contest.
Much like Friday’s season opener, the Keydets threatened first in Saturday’s game one. Jordan Tarsovich reached on a fielding error to start the game, and Jacob Morley was hit by a pitch. USC starter Matt Price, however, set down the next three hitters in order, and his team got on the board in the bottom half. After a leadoff single and a stolen base, Tanner English reached on a fielding error, putting runners at the corners. Christian Walker then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, scoring a run and giving the Gamecocks the early 1-0 lead.
The Keydets got a runner in scoring position in the third, as Nick Dwyer was hit by a pitch and stole second, but Price would strike out the side and preserve the 1-0 lead. South Carolina pushed it to two in the bottom half, thanks to English’s RBI single, and it would stay that way until the sixth, when Tarsovich led off with a walk. Morley was hit by a pitch for the second time, and George Piccirilli walked to load the bases. Rob Dickinson followed with a free pass of his own, scoring Tarsovich and making it a 2-1 game.
South Carolina went to its bullpen with the bases still loaded, and one out later, Cody Holder drove a single to left. Morley scored to tie the game, but Piccirilli was thrown out by English, leaving the game tied 2-2 headed to the bottom half, and setting the stage for SC’s game-winning rally. The Keydets managed a seventh-inning baserunner, in Dwyer’s first career hit, but nothing more and the Gamecocks took the twinbill opener, 3-2.
South Carolina reliever Ethan Carter (1-0) picked up the win in relief of Price, who was wild in his five innings, as he walked three and hit three Keydet hitters. Garrett took the loss in his collegiate debut.
The home team drew first blood in game two, as LB Dantzler had a first-inning sacrifice fly to make it 1-0, USC. That would be all the scoring until the fourth, when South Carolina broke through for a seven-run rally against the Keydet bullpen. Five of the markers were unearned after a crucial VMI fielding error.
The Keydets recovered to keep the home team off the board in the fifth and sixth, but South Carolina tacked on five more runs late, including a two-run home run for TJ Costen that made it 13-0. Cameron Walter led off the VMI ninth with a pinch-hit walk and then scored on Worthington’s double to left-center, accounting for the final margin.
Rob Dickinson was the lone Keydet to have a multi-hit game in the twinbill, as he had two hits in the finale and reached three times overall on the day. Walker led the Gamecock offense by going 4 for 7.
VMI baseball is scheduled to return to action Tuesday, facing Longwood in the Keydet home opener. Game time at Gray-Minor Stadium is set for 3 p.m.