Vanderbilt splits with Stanford, 12-9 and 5-6

Russell Brewer (VM/Nate Yates)

PALO ALTO, CA-- Vanderbilt started the day in grand style, building a 12-1 lead before winning, 12-9. However, in the second game the Commodores reverted to their Friday night woes by blowing a lead and allowing Stanford to win, 6-5, in the final inning.

SATURDAY GAME 1

Vanderbilt hitters piled up 17 hits including a Jason Esposito grand slam home run and Caleb Cotham struck out seven Cardinal batters as Vanderbilt pounded Stanford, 12-9, to take game two of the series. The Commodores had to withstand a late rally by the Cardinal to get the win.

After a scoreless first two innings, Vanderbilt jumped on top, 2-0, after Brian Harris droves in a pair of runs.

The Commodores added two more runs in the fourth when Steven Liddle and Jason Esposito each doubled to help the Commodores build a 4-0 lead.

The fifth inning was a thing of beauty for Vanderbilt. After the Commodores loaded the bases with Aaron Westlake, Curt Casali, and Andrew Giobbi, Jason Esposito hit a towering grand slam home run that bounced off the centerfield batter's eye, which doubled the score to 8-0. It was Esposito's first career home run as a Commodore. Riley Reynolds later bunted home Liddle to increase the VU lead to 9-0.

After blowing a 5-0 lead on Friday night, Vanderbilt knew Stanford would not give up. The Cardinal's Kellen Kiilsgaard solo home run brought the score to 9-1 at the end of five innings. Casali then added another Commodore home run in the sixth to put Vanderbilt up 10-1 and Brian Harris belted a two run homer in the seventh to make it 12-1.

It looked like the Commodores would indeed waltz to an easy win. However, Vanderbilt's Cotham left the game after seven innings of work. He struck out seven and walked just one during his stellar performance. True freshman Jack Armstrong relieved Cotham. Stanford proceeded to pound the young Commodore. The six-foot-seven-inch freshman allowed seven runs on three hits and three walks in two-thirds of an inning. Armstrong also hit two Stanford batters.

Drew Hayes replaced Armstrong with two outs in the eighth inning. Hayes then promptly struck out Brian Moon swinging to end the inning with Vanderbilt up 12-8.

In the ninth, after Vanderbilt came up empty in their at bat, Commodore fans who made the long trip to California watched in horror as Hayes walked two batters after striking out Mike Garza. Vanderbilt then went with Russell Brewer. Brewer got the second out on a fielders choice and then, after allowing a single that brought home a run to make the score to 12-9, he struck out Kiilsgaard looking to end the game.

SATURDAY GAME 2

For the second time in two days Vanderbilt snatched defeat from the jaws of victory to drop their young season record to 1-2. Vanderbilt blew a 5-3 lead by allowing three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, including one on an error, to fall to Stanford, 6-5. On Friday night Vanderbilt blew a 5-0 lead and lost 6-5 in the tenth.

After a scoreless first inning, Stanford took the lead in the third when Toby Gerhart grounded out to score Jeff Whitlow. Vanderbilt then responded by scoring two runs in the top of the fourth. One run came on a Curt Casali homer to left field. Aaron Westlake scored the second run, which was the result of a throwing error by Stanford pitcher Max Fearnow, to put Vandy ahead 2-1.

Second baseman Colin Walsh singled off Vanderbilt starting pitcher Nick Christiani to score Brent Milleville in the bottom of the fourth, which knotted the score 2-2.

In the top of the fifth the Commodores plated two more runs. Jonathan White single home Alex Hilliard and then made an incredible steal of home to put Vanderbilt up, 4-2.

In the sixth, Vanderbilt came up empty in the top of the inning but Stanford managed to plate a run on a double by Brent Milleville, which scored Gerhart. Nick Christiani then made perhaps his finest pitch of the game when he struck out Walsh looking with a fastball and runners on base to end the inning with the 'Dores up, 4-3.

Vanderbilt then brought in righty Taylor Hill to spell Christiani in the top of the eighth. Christiani struck out six and allowed six hits and a walk in seven innings. Vanderbilt added a run in the eighth off a Liddle double, which brought home Esposito and made it 5-3 Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt replaced Hill with Sean Bierman after Hill gave up a single to Gerhart and Joey August reached on a Commodore error. Beirman walked the only runner he faced. Christian Griffiths' walk loaded the bases with one out in the eighth. Vandy turned to right-handed pitcher Russell Brewer for the second time on Saturday to get them out of a jam. Brewer struck out Milleville to get the second out of the inning. Colin Walsh then doubled to score three runs and put the Cardinal up, 7-6. One run scored because of a throwing error by Vandy center fielder Alex Hilliard. Brewer then struck out Schlander to end the inning.

Trailing 7-6 in the top of the ninth, Hilliard grounded out to second. Left fielder Matt Marquis then stuck out. The hitter in the eighth spot, Riley Reynolds, was Vanderbilt's last hope. Stanford pitcher Drew Storen then stuck out Reynolds to end the game and get the win. Bierman took the loss for Vanderbilt.

Weather permitting, Vanderbilt will play at Cal on Sunday at 3 p.m.. On Saturday night as the second game of the day with Stanford came to a close the rain began to fall hard in Palo Alto. Rain is in the forecast for Sunday in the Bay Area.

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