May 15, 2009


CBI Live
Volunteers outlast Commodores in 10


By Jimmy Jones

Special to 


NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The stage is now set and it is a drama that the Vanderbilt Commodores would rather have avoided having a starring role in.
Needing just one win in three games after Kentucky's loss Thursday night, the Commodores (12-16 SEC, 31-23) now find themselves down to just one more attempt to play their way into the SEC Tournament without needing some help from Florida against the Wildcats on Saturday after a 7-6 loss to Tennessee Friday night in Nashville.
VU had to like its chances in this game as it sent its staff ace to the mound in Mike Minor (right), who was coming off an outstanding 12-strikeout performance against Georgia on Saturday in Athens. But the Volunteers were up to the task as they touched up the College Baseball Insider's preseason All-American pick for 10 hits and five earned runs in 7.2 innings.
The win insured that the Volunteers (10-19, 25-29) took the season series for the first time since 2006 and for the first time in Nashville since the 2001 season.
Zach Osborne's RBI single in the third gave UT a 1-0 lead. VU tied the game in the fourth on a sacrifice fly RBI by Andrew Giobbi.
The two teams traded runs in the fifth before the Volunteers took a 5-2 lead via a sac fly by Matt Hamaker and a two-run bomb by Blake Forsythe.
VU came back to take the lead with a four-run eighth when Steven Liddle worked his way on via a walk with one down and came around to score on a double by Curt Casali (left). Aaron Westlake reached on an error before Tennessee elected to intentionally walk Joe Loftus to set the stage for centerfielder Jonathan White, who made the last out Thursday night with the bases loaded on a well struck ball that was caught at the warning track.
The fifth-year senior from Shelbyville, Tennessee made good on his second chance with a searing line drive into centerfield on a 0-1 count to plate the tying, as well as the go-ahead runs to give the Dores a 6-5 advantage with the Vols down to just three outs in the game.
Charley Thurber led off the ninth with a double into the left field corner for UT, his third two-bagger of the game. VU closer Russell Brewer struck out Matt Ramsey and was one pitch away from doing the same to Zach Osborne before he unloaded a base hit to score Thurber to tie the game and force extra innings.
Kentrail Davis (right) singled to left to start the tenth off of reliever Richie Goodenow (0-1). Cody Hawn then reached on a sacrifice bunt as Goodenow fielded the ball cleanly, but his throw was wide allowing the runner to reach base.
VU head coach Tim Corbin called Nick Christiani out of the bullpen and Forsythe faked a bunt and then chopped a single over the head of third baseman Jason Esposito to score the game winning run.

"We just didn't get it done tonight," Corbin said. "It's the way it goes and we need to win tomorrow. We had opportunities and didn't take advantage of them. We couldn't get the ball in play with someone on third; that's happened six times. Tennessee gained the momentum and just didn't let go."
The Commodores have now stranded 21 base runners in the first two games of the series.
The two squads lock horns in the final game of the set on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. Junior right-hander Drew Hayes (4-3, 5.72 ERA) will start for VU, while UT's starter is TBA.
Vanderbilt holds a half-game lead over Kentucky, which defeated the Florida Gators 8-7 on Friday night.

"We know what we need to do, and we have the players to do it," Corbin said. "We just need to execute and win a baseball game."

(photos by Jimmy Jones)