Saturday, May 21, 2011

Vandy Takes Series


Third-ranked Vanderbilt thwarted a six-run comeback by Georgia, scoring 11 times in the final two frames to defeat the Dawgs 17-7 at Foley Field.

Vanderbilt (44-9, 22-8) jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Connor Harrell drove in Curt Casali on a two out infield single in the top of the second. Georgia second baseman Levi Hyams ended the inning on the same play as he threw out Mike Yastrzemski at the plate. The Commodores extended their lead in the top of third after Georgia starter Blake Dieterich loaded the bases with no outs. Aaron Westlake grounded into a double play that scored Riley Reynolds from third, increasing their lead to 2-0.

After a mound visit from Coach David Perno, Dietrich was able to get out of the inning forcing Casali to pop out to center, stranding Tony Kemp at third and avoiding a potentially big inning.

The Commodores pushed two more across the plate in the fourth to make it 4-0, after the first two batters of the inning reached base for the third inning in a row. Connor Harrell hit his sixth home run of the season in the sixth inning to push Vanderbilt’s lead to 6-0. Harrell’s round tripper made it five straight innings in which a Commodore had crossed the plate.

Georgia (28-28, 16-14 SEC) fell behind 6-0 before rallying back with four runs in the sixth and took a brief 7-6 lead after scoring three runs in the seventh. Zach Cone recorded his 28th RBI of the season, driving in Kyle Farmer on his 10th double of the year making it 6-1. This kick-started a four-run rally by the Dawgs that cut the Commodores lead to 6-4. The Dawgs gained the lead in the bottom of the seventh after back to back home runs that included a two-run homer from Chase Davidson and a solo shot by Jonathan Hester, pushing the Dawgs in front 7-6. Davidson registered his seventh of the season which ties him with Kyle Farmer for the team lead. The home runs came off Corey Williams.

Vanderbilt regained the lead in the next half inning as Gregor, Riley Reynolds and Casali tallied RBI singles en route to a five-run eighth, putting the Commodores back in front 11-7.

The Commodores piled on six insurance runs in the ninth, led by home runs from Aaron Westlake and Jason Esposito, to get the score up to the final tally.

“We just didn’t execute very well today,” said Perno. “Offensively we did great coming back but we just couldn’t finish on the mound. A comeback like that, against a team like this is something to be proud of” Perno added. “Unfortunately this is just a cruel game and this is going to be a real tough one to swallow.”

Commodore reliever Mark Lamm picked up the win to improve to 5-0 while Tyler Maloof got the loss to fall 2-2. Lamm pitched 1.2 shutout innings while Maloof surrendered five runs on five hits.

The Dawgs will face Vanderbilt again on Wednesday night in the final game of day one at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. Georgia will be the fifth seed and face the fourth seeded Commodores. South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Florida are SEC co-champions. The Gamecocks have the tiebreakers over them to earn the No. 1 seed.

The Dawgs after playing the toughest schedule in the nation and finishing at 28-28 will likely need to win 3 games in Hoover to gain an at large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Three time defending SEC tournament champion LSU (36-20) did not make the SEC tournament with their 13-17 conference record, but may receive an at large bid from the NCAA and could conceivably win the College World Series after finishing last in the SEC West.

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