USC drops series opener to No. 2 Vanderbilt

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - Despite a late-inning push, No. 15 South Carolina fell 3-2 to second-ranked Vanderbilt Friday night at Carolina Stadium in game of a three-game weekend series.

The Gamecocks fell to 33-13 and 13-9 in the SEC with the loss, while Vanderbilt improved to 40-6 overall and 20-2 in conference play.

Commodore pitcher Kevin Ziomek earned the win and improved to 9-2 on the season. He allowed just one run and eight hits in eight innings of work. Ziomek also struck out four batters and did not give up a walk. South Carolina starter Nolan Belcher suffered the loss and is now 6-5 on the year. He allowed three runs on six hits in six innings. He posted six strikeouts and one walk.

Vanderbilt's Spencer Navin opened the scoring by blasting a two- run home run over the left field fence giving Vanderbilt a 2-0 advantage after two innings. The Commodores would add another run in the top of the sixth inning.

The Gamecocks battled back in the last two innings. Joey Pankake delivered a two-out double to left-center scoring Graham Saiko in the bottom of the eighth inning. In the ninth, pinch-hitter Kyle Martin drilled a solo home run to right center field cutting the Vanderbilt lead to 3-2. The home run was Martin's first home run of the season and the second of his career.

However, the comeback effort came up short when Curt Britt grounded out to first base to end the game.

The series continues Saturday with game two set for noon.