Commodores Blast Tigers

Tyler Johnstone

Nashville, Tenn.--For the second straight day a Vanderbilt pitcher dominated Auburn hitters as on Saturday Matt Buschmann gave up just one run in seven and one/third innings and struck out a career-high 13 hitters as the Commodores pounded the Tigers 9-1 to win the series.

Auburn starter Chris Dennis struggled, allowing six earned runs in only two and two/thirds innings to get the loss. The Tigers fall to 12-14 overall, 1-4 in SEC play, while Vanderbilt improves to 16-7 and 4-1 in conference action.

On a day when the Tigers were looking to wake up the bats and get some offense going, Buschmann had his way from the early innings and never looked back. Coach Tommy Slater said that while the senior was good, his guys didn't play well on Saturday and there's no other way to put it.

"I don't have a lot of good to say about today," Slater said. "Buschmann was good, no question, but I'm very disappointed in how we played. I don't really know what to say other than that right now.

Vanderbilt struck first on a cold Saturday afternoon as they added a single run in the second inning off Dennis. Leading off Dominic de la Osa singled up the middle on the first pitch he saw. The Commodores then played small ball to perfection as a sacrifice bunt moved him to second, a ground ball to third, and he later scored on a single by Shea Robin to make it 1-0 Vandy.

Chris Dennis

Chris Dennis struggled on Saturday in the Auburn loss.

One of only two scoring threats by the Tigers against Buschman came in the top of the third inning as a one-out single by Tyler Johnstone put the Tigers in business. Up next, Russell Dixon scored a liner into right field that Parker Hanks made a diving grab for only to see the ball roll out of his glove. Freezing on the play, Johnstone made it to third with just one out. That would be as far as he would make it though as catcher Josh Donaldson popped up to the catcher for out number two and then Andy Bennett struck out to end the inning.

In his first start back after suffering from an inflammation in his chest called pleurisy, Dennis struggled some with his location and that hurt him in the bottom of the third. Leading off, impressive freshman Pedro Alvarez ripped a single to left field to get the Commodores off and running. Friday night's offensive star Brian Hernandez followed with a double that moved Alvarez around to third with nobody out.

A sacrifice fly off the bat of Ryan Flaherty pushed across Alvarez to push the lead to two, but that would be just the beginning for Vanderbilt as Dennis walked de la Osa before giving up a double to Hanks, a triple to Ryan Davis and a double to Robin as the Commodores broke the game open. That would be it for Dennis as reliever Clarence Nicely came to to get the final two outs of the inning, but not before Vanderbilt had scored five runs to lead 6-0 heading to the fourth.

"He battled for us and gutted up for us," Slater said of Dennis. "He just had a hard time locating. He had a lot of balls in the middle of the plate there in the third inning. Coming off an extra day's rest, I'm not sure if that had anything to do with it or not. He had good work in the middle of the week. There were just a lot of balls left in the middle of the plate and when that happens people are going to get hits."

Vanderbilt would add two more in the fourth off Nicely before Auburn reliever Paul Burnside came on to put out the fire. In three innings the freshman gave up just one run as heading to the top of the eighth the Tigers trailed 9-0. Slater said the pitching of Burnside and fellow reliever Ted Bryant was the one bright spot on the day for the Tigers.

"The one positive out of the day was Paul Burnside," Slater said. "For a freshman to come in and throw the ball like he did and run for us a little bit in a time when we really needed him to in order to save our bullpen a little bit for tomorrow, I'm very proud of Paul Burnside and the effort he gave us."

Auburn would finally get on the board against the dominating Vanderbilt pitching staff in the eighth inning. With 38 consecutive scoreless innings in the book, Auburn scored a single run to break that up in the top of the eighth.

Leading off Johnstone singled, but was quickly erased on a fielder's choice off the bat of Dixon. Pinch hitter Josh Stapleton then singled for Auburn's third hit of the day of Buschman to put the Tigers in business. Another single, this one by Bennett, loaded the bases with just one out. Unfortunately for the Tigers Dixon fell asleep at third and was picked off for the second out of the inning with Mike Bianucci at the plate. Following a walk to Bianucci the Tigers would score as Vanderbilt reliever Casey Weathers uncorked a wild pitch to score Stapleton from third. Derek Sain would strike out to end the inning though as the Tigers trailed 9-1.

That would be the way this one ended as the Commodores followed up Friday's dominating pitching performance by David Price with another one on Saturday by Buschman. On the day the Tigers got just five hits with two coming off the bat of the senior Johnstone. Vanderbilt was led by Alvarez and Hanks, who each had three hits.

The Tigers will be looking to avoid the sweep on Sunday when freshman

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