Baseball: Vanderbilt 2, Arkansas 0

Aaron Westlake (VM/Don Yates)

HOOVER­­--- A trio of Vanderbilt pitchers led by ace right-hander Sonny Gray led the Commodores to a 2-0 win over Arkansas in the final game of the first day of the Southeastern Conference tournament Wednesday night at Regions Park.

Gray scattered seven hits over seven innings of work with eight strikeouts and a walk to improve to 9-4 on the season.

He was relieved in the eighth inning by Richie Goodenow with no outs and Bo Bigham at first base. Goodenow struck out the lone batter he faced in Andy Wilkins, while Andrew Giobbi then threw out Bo Bigham trying to steal second in a strikeout-throw-out double play.

Chase Reid relieved Goodenow with two outs in the eighth and got Monk Kreder to ground out to short to end the frame. He then retired the side in order in the ninth to record his second save of the year.

It was the team's fifth shutout of the year and Gray and Goodenow have combined on three of them, while Reid has combined on two.

"It was just a pitching performance tonight," head coach Tim Corbin said. "I thought Sonny pitched very well obviously, anyone could see that. He was very consistent and the time he ran into trouble in the second inning he got out of it with a couple of strikeouts and we made some big double plays after that. It was pitching and defense tonight, that's about it."

The Commodores improved to 41-15 on the year, while the Razorbacks fell to 40-17. VU will face No. 8 seed LSU on Thursday night in the final game of the four-game day. The Tigers beat No. 1 seed Florida, 10-6, marking the fifth straight year the eighth seed has defeated the top seed at the tourney.

Aaron Westlake scored both runs for the Commodores, one on a wild pitch in the sixth and another on a solo homer in the eighth. He crushed a 2-0 pitch from reliever D.J. Baxendale over the wall in centerfield to make it 2-0. It was his fourth straight game he has homered (all against Arkansas) and his fifth homer in the last seven games.

VU scored a run in the sixth on a wild pitch by reliever Sam Murphy. Westlake walked, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Curt Casali and to third on a ground out by Andrew Giobbi. Murphy then uncorked a wild pitch that got past catcher Monk Kreder allowing Westlake to score.

The Commodores had a chance to get on the board in the first loading the bases with one out against Arkansas starter Jeremy Heatley. But Curt Casali struck out and Andrew Giobbi flew out to deep left to end the inning.

Heatley threw five innings of three-hit shutout baseball with seven strikeouts and four walks before giving way to Murphy in the fifth.

In all the Commodores stranded 12 men on base in the game.
Vanderbilt 000 001 010-270
Arkansas   000 000 000-070 
Gray, Goodenow (8), Reid (8) and Giobbi. Heatley, Murphy (6), Baxendale (8), Fuqua (9) and Kreder. W- Gray 9-4, L- Murphy 0-2. Sv- Reid (2) HR: Westlake (12)

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