May 31, 2009

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Christiani Pitches Vanderbilt to Monday Showdown

By Jimmy Jones

Special to

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Vanderbilt forced a winner-take-all showdown with a 8-4 victory over tournament host Louisville Sunday night in front of 4,006 fans at Patterson Stadium.
Nick Christiani (6-6) (left) pitched the Commodores (37-26) into the championship game with six solid innings of seven-hit baseball. He finished his stint having allowed just three runs while striking out four and walking two.
"I am really proud of my pitcher, Christiani", VU coach Tim Corbin said. “I just really wanted something good to happen to him tonight. He was the right guy at the right time. I thought he pitched well and kept us in the ballgame.
"We did a nice job of stopping a tough team in a tough environment. We are fortunate and it was a good ballgame for us."
Vanderbilt starters have now pitched 31 of the 35 innings thrown by the Commodore staff at the Louisville Regional and that just may prove to be a pivotal point in the outcome of the tournament.
“That was really important for us, to almost get two complete games," Corbin said.
"Sonny could have thrown a complete game, but we wanted to give some others some work. It was nice to have someone fresh behind Nick in Drew, and Chase did a nice job of closing it out."
Louisville designated hitter Phil Wunderlich's RBI single to right in the first inning ended Vanderbilt's string of 19 consecutive scoreless innings pitched at the Louisville Regional. The Commodores had posted consecutive shutouts against Indiana and Middle Tennessee.
The streak started in the ninth inning of Vanderbilt's 5-4 loss to Middle Tennessee on Friday.

The Cardinals had two potential rallies snuffed out by double plays just as they appeared to be gaining some momentum in the later innings
"The double plays were huge momentum swings for us," VU shortstop Brian Harris said. “With a guy on first, there was a line-drive double play, and we had one in the sixth inning. It pumps you back up, and it pumps the whole team back up."
"It was a frustrating night on our end," Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. "I thought we got outplayed in every aspect of the game; pitching, hitting, and defense.
"You have to give the credit to their hitters. It was a bad game on our part. You have to tip your hat to them. They played well and we didn't. We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We have to get ready to play a great game tomorrow night."
The championship game is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.


(photo by Jimmy Jones)