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April 11, 2010

USC takes Vandy series; Tanner gets 1,000th win

South Carolina won a pitchers' duel Sunday at Vanderbilt, defeating the Commodores 2-0 for a series victory and the 1,000th win of Ray Tanner's career.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. | It was a grand old win for Ray Tanner.

The South Carolina coach can thank Jay Brown for doing his part.

Making his second start of the season, Brown (2-0) sailed through 6 1/3 innings and teamed with two relievers on a two-hit shutout as the No. 11 Gamecocks beat 20th-ranked Vanderbilt 2-0 at Hawkins Field to hand Tanner career coaching victory No. 1,000.

"I've never made any pitches, I've never gotten any hits, I've never made any plays," Tanner said. "I'm just proud to be part of this program."

More importantly for the Gamecocks (25-7, 9-3 SEC), the win clinched another conference series victory -- USC's fourth in a row to start the season, a new school record in SEC play.

USC maintained its one-game lead on Florida in the SEC East after the Gators (23-8, 8-4) took two of three from Tennessee over the weekend.

"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."

Brown was a big reason why.

The 6-foot-4 senior -- who retired 17 in a row at one point --held the Commodores (26-8, 6-6) to two hits and struck out two. He left in the seventh after a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt pushed the tying run into scoring position for Vandy.

Michael Roth came on in relief and forced an inning-ending double play when Aaron Westlake lined out to USC shortstop Bobby Haney, who touched the bag to end the threat.

USC then turned to Matt Price, who struck out three batters in two perfect innings to earn his fourth save. Vanderbilt was held to the minimum 27 batters.

"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," Tanner said.

On offense, the first pitch of the game was the only pitch USC needed.

Leadoff batter Whit Merrifield lifted Vanderbilt starter Taylor Hill's first offering over the left-field wall, and the Commodores' bats fell silent as they were shut out for the first time this season and the first time at home since 2005.

"It's hard to imagine," Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. "We pitched as well as we could this weekend. Taylor pitched very, very well. He gave us every opportunity to win. I don't know if I saw this coming."

The Commodores had three hits in a Friday loss and dropped their third of four SEC series despite giving up seven runs for the weekend.

"When you pitch as well as we did, it's really frustrating to get the kind of performance we had," said Brian Harris, who had both Vanderbilt hits Sunday. "We weren't swinging at good pitches. I don't think we were very disciplined as a whole."

South Carolina added a run in the ninth when Adrian Morales doubled off reliever Russell Brewer to score pinch runner Robert Beary from second base.

Tanner is the fourth fastest active coach to tally 1,000 Division I victories in games played. He is 15th on the active career coaching list with a record of 1,000-446-3. He is 605-273 at USC.

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