Baseball: Vanderbilt sweeps Rhode Island

Tony Kemp (Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE)

After struggling to a dismal 1-7 start, the Vanderbilt baseball team got down to business over the weekend and swept a solid Rhode Island club. Look inside for complete details courtesy of Vanderbilt athletics.

GAMES 1 and 2: (Saturday) Commodores win pair

Nashville, Tenn. – Vanderbilt used early offense and solid pitching to win both ends of a doubleheader Saturday at Hawkins Field winning the first game 9-4 and the second game 8-0 to clinch the Commodores' first series win of the season.

Vanderbilt starter Drew VerHagen dominated over a career-long eight innings in the second game of the twin bill to earn his second win of the year. The big right-hander allowed only one hit with four walks and struck out a career-high six in the win. The Rams had only two batters reach scoring position against VerHagen before freshman Jared Miller finished off the Dores' first shutout of 2012. Rams' starter Kevin Lee was pegged with the loss after allowing five runs on four hits over five frames.

The Commodores jumped on the Rams early in both games, combining for 10 first inning runs Saturday including a three-run first in the second game. Anthony Gomez drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly before Mike Yastrzemski blasted his third home run of the year with a two-run shot. Yastrzemski has now matched his home run total from last season in just nine games. Vandy put two runs on the board in the fifth and put the game away with a three-run sixth despite having just one hit in the inning. Andrew Harris helped lead the offense, reaching base four times and scoring two runs in his second start of the season.

The Dores wasted no time getting the offense going in the first game, scoring a season-best seven runs in the first inning. Back-to-back singles from Spencer Navin and Tony Kemp set the table for the big inning with Yastrzemski driving in a run with a single and Connor Harrell's base clearing, three-run double delivering the lead. Navin's second hit of the first inning, a double, capped the rally and made Navin the first Commodore to have two hits in an inning since Harrell turned the trick against Florida last May. Navin later added another double to finish the first game with a career-high three hits. The Commodores' offense produced a season-high 16 hits in the win with seven players notching multi-hit games, including Kemp, Gomez, Conrad Gregor, Yastrzemski, Riley Reynolds and Vince Conde who all had two-hit games.

Vanderbilt's seven-run first was more than enough for starter Kevin Ziomek. The lefty worked a career-best 7.1 innings before being chased in the eighth. Ziomek struck out a career-high nine batters while allowing four runs, three earned, on six hits and one walk for his first win of the season. He dominated the Rams early in the game, striking out five of the first nine batters he faced. Rhode Island starter Chris Pickering was pinned with the loss giving up nine runs, six earned, on 14 hits over 4.2 innings.

The Commodores' doubleheader sweep is the first since taking two from Brown last season at Hawkins Field. Spencer Navin hit leadoff in both games for the first time in his career with Tony Kemp sliding to the two-spot in the order. The Vanderbilt program now needs five wins to reach 2,000 in its history.

The series finale between Vanderbilt and Rhode Island is slated for 1 p.m. tomorrow at Hawkins Field. Left-hander Sam Selman is scheduled to pitch for the Commodores. For season ticket information visit vucommodores.com or call 615.322.GOLD.
Game 1 (Saturday)
                1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R  H E
RHODE ISLAND    0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 - 4  8 2
VANDERBILT      7 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 X - 9 16 2
Boxscore:
Game 2 (Saturday)
                1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
RHODE ISLAND    0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 2 4
VANDERBILT      3 0 0 0 2 3 0 0 X - 8 6 0
Boxscore:

GAME 3 (Sunday) Vanderbilt 12, Rhode Island 8

Nashville, Tenn. – Vanderbilt won a back-and-forth game Sunday 12-8 to finish off a three-game sweep of Rhode Island at Hawkins Field.

The Commodores (4-7) rallied for nine runs over the team's final three innings to beat the Rams (4-5) and finish off the Dores' first sweep of the season. After Rhode Island had taken the lead in the top of the sixth, Vanderbilt rallied for four runs in the bottom half to take the lead sending nine men to the plate. A RBI-single from Spencer Navin tied the game and Tony Kemp's RBI-single put VU in front. Anthony Gomez followed with a two-run double to cap the rally and push the Vanderbilt lead to 7-4.

However, the Rams were not done, scoring four runs of their own in the seventh inning to claim a lead at the stretch. Once again the Vanderbilt offense answered the challenge, pushing three runs across in the bottom of the seventh to reclaim the lead for good. Riley Reynolds led off the seventh with a single and Andrew Harris' double to deep right field put runners on second and third. A Rhode Island error allowed the tying run to score before Kemp's single up the middle scored Harris to put VU back in front. Conrad Gregor added a run-scoring fielder's choice to finish off the three-run rally. The Commodores then added two insurance runs in the eighth, including Navin's third hit of the day and fourth RBI.

Navin led the way for Vandy going 3-for-6 with four RBI, three runs scored and his first career home run, a game-tying blast to lead off the bottom of the first. Navin finished the weekend 7-for-13 with four extra-base hits, five runs scored and six RBI. Kemp added two hits and two RBI to extend his hitting streak to eight games. Harris scored three runs and knocked in a run, reaching base four times. Reynolds added two hits for his second two-hit outing in his last three games. Eight of VU's nine starters collected hits on the afternoon with the team finishing with 12 hits in the game. Pat Fortunato led the Rams with three runs scored and three hits to go along with his two RBI.

Will Clinard (1-0) picked up the win in relief for the Commodores working 2.1 scoreless innings. Mike Bradstreet (0-1) was pinned with the loss, giving up five runs, four earned, on five hits over 2.2 innings. Vanderbilt starter Sam Selman tossed five innings allowing four runs, two earned, on seven hits with seven strikeouts. Four VU pitchers combined to strike out 13 Rhode Island batters in the win.

The game featured nine lead changes in the first seven innings and sloppy defense on both sides as the two teams combined for eight errors, including five by Vanderbilt to match a season-high.

The Commodores return to action Tuesday at Belmont to take on the Bruins in the first of two games between the cross-town rivals this season. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m. at Rose Park. For season ticket information visit vucommodores.com or call 615.322.GOLD.
Game 3 (Sunday)
                1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9    R  H E
RHODE ISLAND    1 1 0 0 0 2 4 0 0 -  8 14 3
VANDERBILT      1 1 0 1 0 4 3 2 X - 12 12 5
Boxscore:

VandyMania.com Recommended Stories