Baseball: Vanderbilt 8, UNC-Wilmington 2

Connor Harrell (Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE)

Raleigh, N.C. – Vanderbilt stole a season-best eight bases and used a stellar pitching performance to beat UNC-Wilmington 8-2 in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament Raleigh Regional Friday afternoon.

The Commodores (34-26) grabbed the lead in the third inning with a two-out rally. Mike Yastrzemski's double to the left-center field gap ignited the rally before Anthony Gomez lifted a flair to center field that dropped in to score Yastrzemski for the first run of the game. Conrad Gregor lined a single into right field with Seahawks' right fielder Tyler Molinaro coming up throwing to third base. The throw bounced off Gomez, who was sliding into third, and allowed him to score for a two-run Vandy lead.

The Dores blew the game open in the fourth, scoring four runs on one hit and stealing five bases in the frame. Riley Reynolds led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch. Connor Harrell coaxed a walk to put runners on the corners for Jack Lupo. The VU left fielder dropped down a perfect safety squeeze bunt to score Reynolds for the first run of the inning. After a walk to Vince Conde, he and Harrell stole second and third. A groundout and error by first baseman Hunter Ridge scored Harrell from third base. Yastrzemski drove in Conde from third with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0. Gomez drew a two-out walk to put runners on first and third base. With Gregor at the plate, UNC-Wilmington (38-22) pitcher Kelly Secrest threw over to first base to chase Gomez back to the bag. Kemp took off for home when Secrest threw to first, sliding into home plate for the fifth run of the inning as Gomez swiped second. Kemp's steal of home is Vanderbilt's second in the last three games. Gomez added to the lead in the sixth with a two-run single.

T.J. Pecoraro (2-4) was outstanding over 7.2 innings to earn the win. The right-hander dominated, scattering six hits with no walks and matching a career-best with eight strikeouts. The Seahawks' only offense on the day came in the seventh inning when Thomas Pope blasted a two-run homer over the left field fence. Pecoraro cruised through the first six frames allowing only two base runners to reach scoring position, including Hunter Ridge who was thrown out at home plate by Yastrzemski to end the second inning. Pecoraro retired nine Seahawks in a row before Ridge singled in front of Pope's homer. UNC-Wilmington starter Tyler McSwain (9-4) took the loss allowing six runs, two earned, on seven hits over 3.2 innings.

Gomez and Yastrzemski each had two hits to lead the Commodores. Gomez knocked in a game-high three runs to give him his team-best 15th multi-RBI game of the season. Gomez's two hits give him 86 on the season and 263 for his career, which ties him with former teammate Aaron Westlake for eighth all-time at Vanderbilt. Ridge led the Seahawks with three hits.

Vanderbilt's eight stolen bases in the win set a new season-high, topping the previous high of seven set against Florida in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament last Saturday. The Commodores have stolen 38 bases in 47 attempts in the team's last 11 games led by Tony Kemp's perfect 10-for-10 on the base paths.

The Dores advance in the winner's bracket of the Raleigh Regional and will play the winner of North Carolina State-Sacred Heart Saturday night at 6 p.m. CT. Left-hander Sam Selman is scheduled to get the ball for the Commodores.
                1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9  R   H E
UNC-WILMINGTON  0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0  2-  7 2
VANDERBILT      0 0 2 4 0 2 0 0 X  8-  8 0
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