April 10, 2010

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CBI Live
Armstrong pitches Vanderbilt past South Carolina

By Jimmy Jones

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com

(photos by Danny Parker)


NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Great pitching continues to be center stage in the SEC series between the No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks and the No. 20 Vanderbilt Commodores.
This time it was the Black and Gold that got an outstanding performance from sophomore Jack Armstrong (5-0, 3-0 SEC) (right) who solidified his position in the rotation with a career-high eight-inning effort to pace the Commodores to an 8-2 win in front of a season-high 3,197 sun-drenched fans.
"Once again we had a great pitching performance," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "I thought Jack got the game going quick for us and that started some momentum in the dugout especially after the first inning where we had a runner on first and second and didn't score. We got some big hits in timely situations and scored five runs in the third, but Jack gave us a chance to catch up."
It was Armstrong's second consecutive stellar outing after twirling a shutout through six innings against ninth-ranked Florida on the road last weekend.
"I thought I had control of all three of my pitches today and were throwing all of them for strikes," Armstrong said. "In the summer when I was pitching in the Cape I was more of fastball-change guy, but now that I'm back to facing metal bats I've been working a lot on my curveball with pitching coach Derek Johnson and that's been a big difference maker for me."
Connor Harrell got things started for Vanderbilt with a single in the second inning and he promptly stole second base. Joe Loftus (right) picked up the RBI with a solid single into right field to make the score 1-0.
Back-to-back hits by Bryan Johns and Aaron Westlake to start the third opened the gates for a five-run rally to chase Gamecock starter Sam Dyson from the game in his shortest outing of the season.
Loftus had a two-run base hit, Harrell's infield single scored another run and freshman sensation Anthony Gomez doubled in the final two runners of the inning to bump the margin to 6-0.
The Gamecocks cut into the lead in the fifth on RBI singles by Scott Wingo (left) and Whit Merrifield.
The Commodores answered in the eighth when Riley Reynolds reached home on a wild pitch and Jason Esposito picked up his 40th RBI of the year with a single to score Westlake to account for the final score.
Dyson allowed six runs, all earned, on eight hits in 2.2 innings with three strikeouts to drop to 2-2 on the season for South Carolina.
Jose Mata (right) came on in relief in the third and threw 4.2 innings of scoreless relief before giving way to Nolan Belcher in the eighth. Mata allowed four hits in his stint.
Armstrong scattered six hits with four strikeouts and just one earned run.
Chase Reid closed out the ninth by striking out two of the four hitters he faced.
The Commodores evened the series and improved to 26-7 over and 6-5 in Southeastern Conference play, while the Gamecocks fell to 24-7 and 8-3 in league action.
The teams will meet in the rubber game of the three-game set Sunday at 1 p.m. Junior right-hander Taylor Hill (3-2, 3.95 ERA) will take the hill for VU, while South Carolina sends senior right-hander Jay Brown (1-0, 3.79 ERA) to the mound.