HOOVER, Ala. – Jonathan White drew a two-out, bases load walk in the top of the ninth inning and lifted Vanderbilt to a 5-4 victory over South Carolina in the second round of the SEC baseball tournament Friday morning.
White was 3-for-4 and stole a base in the game, which ended at 1:09 a.m. In his final at-bat, he worked the count full, fouled off three pitches and then took ball four. In so doing, he forced home Riley Reynolds with the winning run.
"He had a great at-bat at the end of the game, which gave us the go-ahead run," VU coach Tim Corbin said. To just get into the situation where we could work the count to 3-2 was great. The way he is using the field too is great. He's hitting balls up the middle, down the line, and off the wall. I'm just happy for him."
The Commodores (33-24), who will not play again until Saturday, went ahead 4-2 on back-to-back home runs by Aaron Westlake and Andrew Giobbi in the top of the sixth. For Giobbi, it was his second home run in as many games.
Giobbi was 4-for-4 and improved to 7-for-8 in the tournament.
"I didn't change my approach or anything, it was just about going after the right pitches and it's been paying off," Giobbi said.
South Carolina (38-20) tied it with two in bottom of the eighth.
Starting pitcher Sonny Gray struck out a career-high 11 and allowed eight hits and three walks in seven innings. He came on for the eighth but was pulled after he allowed a walk and a double to the first two hitters. Both runners eventually scored.
Vanderbilt used five relievers over the final three innings. Chase Reid recorded the final two outs and earned his first save. He came on with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth and got out of it with a pop up to the infield and struck out Justin Dalles to end the contest.
"You have to take advantage of run-scoring opportunities," USC coach Ray Tanner said. "Part of the reason we didn't take advantage early on was [Vanderbilt pitcher] Sonny Gray. He was really good. The young man had great stuff, and he is a power pitcher in the mid-90's, and he could get his breaking ball over at times. He was very difficult to try to figure out."