No. 6 South Carolina traveled to West End this weekend to take on the No. 4 VandyBoys. Vanderbilt has not dropped a weekend series all season long and they would face their stiffest competition when they faced the Gamecocks. South Carolina came into Nashville with hot bats and bad intentions and Vanderbilt had question marks surrounding their weekend rotation with Hunter Owen out and question marks surrounding Carter Holton. After a rough first bout on Friday night, the VandyBoys came out swinging in the next two games and took the series 2-1.
Friday, April 14th: South Carolina 14 Vanderbilt 6
Vanderbilt dropped the first game of the series to South Carolina in a disappointing fashion. With Hunter Owen out and Carter Holton struggling with fatigue, Bryce Cunningham was on the bump for the VandyBoys. Cunningham had an off-and-on night where he showed the flash that you know he has but also that he is fairly inexperienced. Cunningham pitched 5 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 6 hits. Cunningham did show some impressive stuff by striking out 7 batters.
Vanderbilt turned it over to the bullpen and brought in Sam Hliboki and it went downhill from there. Hliboki had some good stuff but in two innings he allowed seven earned runs on seven hits. The gamecocks were lighting up the reliever and Hliboki was just left in for too long; an issue that Vanderbilt fans have experienced a few times this year.
Saturday, April 15th: Vanderbilt 8 South Carolina 5
Vanderbilt was going to get a much-needed boost to their rotation when it was announced that Carter Holton would be returning and would get the start on the bump for the VandyBoys. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all roses for Holton as he did not make it out of the first inning where he was shellacked and allowed 4 earned runs.
But thankfully for the Commodores, the bats came alive. Vanderbilt did everything it could on the offensive front from home runs, playing small ball, and being aggressive on the base paths. R.J. Schreck and Jack Bulger were heroes for the ‘Dores on Saturday afternoon as Schreck went yard in the third to cut the Cocks lead in half with a 2-run homer. Right behind him was Jack Bulger as he launched a solo homer to cut the lead down even more.
Despite a disastrous first inning, the Commodores were able to limit the Cocks to just 1 run the rest of the game and evened the series 1-1 as they defeated South Carolina by a score of 8-5.
Sunday, April 16th: Vanderbilt 6 South Carolina 4
Death, taxes, and Devin Futrell dealing. Who else would the VandyBoys turn to when they needed to take the series against the #6 team in the nation? There was no other option. It was Futrell Day.
Futrell did what he does best: sit batters down. Futrell went 5.1 clutch innings for Vanderbilt in a must-win game where he allowed only 2 earned runs on 4 hits and struck out 7 batters. In total, Futrell sat down 11 batters faced and paved the way for a VandyBoys victory.
Sunday was an impressive win for the Commodore. But, what is more, impressive is that Vanderbilt took the series from a hot South Carolina team as Vanderbilt continues to solidify itself as the best team in the SEC.
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