Vanderbilt-Louisville Recap
Harrell bunts to victory! (AP/Ed Reinke)
Harrell bunts to victory! (AP/Ed Reinke)

Posted Jun 8, 2010


While the season of 48 of the 64 NCAA tournament baseball teams is now over, Vanderbilt gets to keep playing and now advances to the Super Regional in Tallahassee, Fla. There they will face Florida State for the best 2-of-3 games for the right to go to the College World Series. It took a Herculean effort for the Commodores to finish on top of the Louisville region.

After losing to Louisville on Saturday, 7-1, VU entered the loser’s bracket and was forced to play Illinois State on Sunday with the winner advancing to play the No. 7 ranked Cards. Vandy met the challenges Sunday winning both of the do or die games, setting up Monday night’s loser leave town match up between VU and UL. All hands were called to deck and while Grayson Garvin gave Vandy a great performance in 6.1 innings, Chase Reid, Sonny Gray, and Taylor Hill were all called upon to command this ship into port and secure the win 3-2 on Monday.

The Louisville hitters were held at bay by Garvin in a similar as fellow lefty Richie Goodenow had handled the Cards on Sunday. Garvin pitched his longest outing of the year, going 6.1 innings and only allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 2 walks in a no decision. Chase Reid then finished the 7th inning with no runs, no hits and one walk. And then Sonny Gray asked for the rock in the 8th inning. In the 8th, a possibly tired Gray allowed 2 hits but was able to get out of the inning without any damage. He wasn’t as lucky in the 9th inning. He started the inning with a walk of Stewart Ijames, who later attempted to steal 2nd. The batter, Josh Richmond, was called out on the steal attempt for interfering with the catcher Andrew Giobbi’s throw to 2nd base and Ijames was told to return to 1st. Drew Haynes and Jeff Arnold then hit back to back singles, with Arnold’s scoring Ijames to tie the game at 2-2. Andrew Clark then hit a line drive that was snagged by a leaping Brian Harris to end the threat.

Brian Harris led off the bottom of the 9th with his 36th NCAA record hit by a pitch to break the record that Robbie Knight of Creighton University set in 2008. After Anthony Gomez sacrifice bunted Harris over to 2nd, Aaron Westlake hit a line drive to the short stop. Jason Esposito, who had the walk off game winning homer in Nashville against this same Louisville team, was intentionally walked. Joe Loftus then struck out swinging to end the threat.

Taylor Hill then took the mound in the 10th and recorded a quick 3 up and 3 down to set up a dramatic bottom half of the 10th. After Andrew Giobbi popped out to 2nd, Curt Casali was hit by a pitch. Mike Yastrzemski then hit a bouncing infield single through the second baseman and Casali advanced to 3rd base. Coach Tim Corbin asked Connor Harrell to drop a safety squeeze bunt down in an effort to score Casali from 3rd with 1 out. Harrell dropped a perfect bunt down the 1st base line and Casali was able to score the winning run.

Yastrzemski seems to be finding his bat stroke as he went 3-for-5 for the night. Gomez, Casali, and Esposito each had 2 big hits in securing the win. Connor Harrell may get the game ball however with his bunt and incredible defensive play. In the 3rd inning, he stole a 2-run homerun from Cardinal catcher Jeff Arnold. Arnold hit the ball deep to left centerfield and Harrell raced to the fence and extended his glove over the fence to make the game saving catch.

The Commodores did have a chance to put the game away in the 5th inning when they had bases loaded with no outs. Cardinal pitcher, Thomas Royse, ended the threat with 3 subsequent strikeouts of Westlake, Esposito, and Loftus. When Coach Corbin saw a runner at 3rd with just one out in the 10th, he was not going to repeat the 5th and called for the safety squeeze. Taylor Hill (6-5), going 1 inning, picks up the win. Neil Holland (8-1) goes only 2 innings for the Cardinals, but picks up his first loss of the season.

Vanderbilt (45-18) will take the bus back to Nashville on Monday and will have to prepare quickly for their next foe, Florida State (45-17). The games will be played this Friday at noon EST (11 am CST) and at 1PM EST (noon CST) Saturday and Sunday if needed. Friday’s game will be on ESPN2 and the other weekend games will be on ESPN. The Commodores will need to win two of the next three to punch their ticket for Omaha. To go deep in the NCAA Tournament, a team must be blessed with pitching. Richie Goodenow and Grayson Garvin may have been an answer to prayer for Coach Tim Corbin, as he may have just found that this Commodore bullpen is a little deeper than he ever thought it was.


Related Stories
Vanderbilt Baseball Update
 -by VandyMania.com  May 10, 2010
AUDIO: Corbin, Hill and Westlake discuss win
 -by VandyMania.com  Apr 18, 2010
Baseball: Vanderbilt 3, Auburn 2
 -by VandyMania.com  Apr 18, 2010

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