April 11, 2010

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CBI Live
Tanner gets 1,000th win as South Carolina edges Vandy

By Jimmy Jones

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com

(photos by Jimmy Jones)


NASHVILLE­­, Tenn. -- Jay Brown pitched South Carolina to a 2-0 win over Vanderbilt with 6.1 innings of shutout baseball in front of 2,328 fans at Hawkins Field on an ideal Spring afternoon to clinch the key SEC series for his ball club.
Leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield (right) provided all the offense the Gamecocks would need when he hit the first pitch of the game over the scoreboard in left field off of Commodore starter Taylor Hill for a 1-0 advantage.
Merrifield now owns a 19-game hitting streak and has hit safely in an incredible 31 of 32 games for the year.
VU looked to answer quickly when Brian Harris led off the bottom half with a base hit but he was quickly erased by a double play. It would be the last base runner that the hosts would have until the seventh inning as Brown cruised through the lineup.

"They threw the ball outside when they had to," Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said. "They threw the ball inside when they had to. They were able to jam us. They were able to throw a breaking ball that, for whatever reason, we offered at."
Brown (left) departed with one out in the sixth after Harris led off with a hit, and was bunted to second by Bryan Johns. The Gamecocks went to the pen for left-hander Michael Roth to face Aaron Westlake.
Westlake hit a sharp liner that appeared destined for centerfield but shortstop Bobby Haney made a nice catch glove-side and then beat the diving Harris back to second base for an unconventional but back-breaking double play to end the inning.
South Carolina closer Matt Price set the Commodores down in order in the eighth and ninth for his fourth save of the campaign.
It was coach Ray Tanner's 1,000th career victory and it also marked the first time in school history that the Gamecocks have won four consecutive series in conference play to open a season since joining the SEC in 1992.
"I'm grateful to be where I am," Tanner (right) said. "I think I have one of the better jobs in the country and I'm just a part of a team.
"Like I said before, I've never made any pitches, I've never gotten any hits, I've never made any plays. I'm just proud to be part of this program.
"Jay Brown, I'll always remember getting 1,000 when he pitched and I'm honored that he was the guy that went out there. He figured in with Roth and Price in a tough game today."
Hill (3-3) (left) picked up another tough-luck loss for the VU staff with 7.2 innings, the longest outing of his career. He gave up just one run and two hits while striking out three and walked one batter.
"I'm very proud of Taylor in how he pitched," Corbin said. "He pitched very well and gave us every opportunity to win."
The Gamecocks improved to 25-7 overall and 9-3 in Southeastern Conference play, while the Commodores fell to 26-8 overall and 6-6 in league action.
The shutout was the first for Vanderbilt at home in SEC play since LSU won 3-0 on May 1, 2005.
"I am so proud of our team," Tanner said. "We played hard and pitched great today. We didn't dominate. We were able to win both games that were close and on the road against a great club, one of the better hitting and pitching teams in the country. I am really proud of what we were able to accomplish."