Tim Corbin was not terribly concerned when Taylor Hill allowed a home run on the first pitch of the game.
“A lot of times what happens is … it brings (the pitcher) into the game right away,” Corbin said. “That didn’t bother me a bit.”
It turned out to be a terrible thing. Although Hill pitched very well after that, as Corbin expected, it still was a deficit too big for Vanderbilt to overcome.
The Commodores sent the minimum 27 hitters to the plate Sunday in a 2-0 loss to South Carolina at Hawkins Field, the first time since 2005 they were shut out at home.
Vanderbilt limited the Gamecocks to just seven runs on the weekend but still dropped two of the three games. The Commodores scored eight on Saturday alone in their one victory of the weekend after they lost 3-2 on Friday night.
“That’s hard to digest,” Hill, who allowed two hits and just the one run in 7.2 innings, said. “It’s one of those things where you just have to go out there, do what you can and see what happens.”
What happened in the series finale was that VU’s hitters chased a bevy of breaking balls from three South Carolina pitchers, who combined for five strikeouts, two hits and no walks.
Brian Harris had a pair of singles, one in the first and one in the seventh, but both times was eliminated as part of a double play. On the latter he was on second following a sacrifice bunt but was doubled off there when Aaron Westlake hit a soft line drive to the shortstop right near the bag.
“The biggest rally was a runner on second base and Westlake hitting a line drive and we get doubled off because Brian’s trying to get extra (steps) so he can score,” Corbin said. “It was the worst place on the field we could hit the ball.”
Vanderbilt (26-8, 6-6 in the SEC) and South Carolina (25-7, 9-3) entered the day first and second, respectively, in the SEC for team ERA. The Commodores had allowed the fewest home runs, and the Gamecocks had the highest rate of strikeouts per nine innings as well as one shutout in two of their three previous conference series’.
Yet in winning seven of its nine conference games coming into the weekend SC averaged 7.6 runs per game. It did not even get that many in three against Vanderbilt but still managed to take the series and maintain sole possession of first place in the Eastern Division.
“It’s hard to imagine,” Corbin said. “We pitched as well as we could coming into this weekend against … (an) offensive ball club. We shut them right down.
“I’m very proud of Taylor (and) how he pitched. He pitched very, very well. He gave us every opportunity to win.”
Even after he gave up long ball on his first delivery.