May 16, 2009


CBI Live
Commodores lose and win


By Jimmy Jones

Special to 


NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The good news for the Vanderbilt Commodores is that they clinched the eighth and final spot in the SEC Tournament on Saturday at Hawkins Field. The bad news? They went through the back door to get there with their 9-7 10-inning loss to Tennessee on the strength of Cody Hawn's (pictured right) tenth-inning home run, and worse yet, it was gratis of perpetual nemesis Florida's win over Kentucky that insured their spot in the brackets next week.
Vanderbilt (12-17 SEC, 31-24) held leads of 4-0 and 7-4 but couldn't hold off the hard-charging Volunteers, who registered their first three-game sweep of the Black and Gold in eight years (2000) and their first in Nashville since 1976 when the three-game format was first instituted.
Brian Harris worked a walk in the VU first and Steven Liddle followed suit before Vol starter Aaron Tullo moved them both up 90 feet with a wild pitch.


After a walk to Curt Casali loaded the bases, Aaron Westlake put the Commodores up 1-0 with a sacrifice fly.
Andrew Giobbi's RBI single made it 2-0. VU then put on the double steal with Jonathan White swiping second and Casali stole home on the throw to second for the third run of the inning.
Vanderbilt tacked on a run in the second on an RBI hit by Liddle to bump the score to 4-0 under ominous clouds with a light, but steady rain falling.
Tennessee then did what it has done all weekend when Shelbyville, Tennessee, native Jarred Frazier hit a line drive over the centerfield fence to lead off the inning. Cody Grisham followed with a hit one out later and Kentrail Davis coaxed a walk off of VU starter Drew Hayes.
Hawn singled to score Grisham to cut the lead to 4-2.The score would remain right there for two hours and 54 minutes due to strong thunderstorms and lightning throughout the area.
When play resumed, UT tied the game in the fifth inning on hits by Hawn and an error by Vanderbilt third baseman Jason Esposito.
The Commodores answered in a big way on hits by Harris and Liddle to open the bottom half of the fifth.
Westlake (right) then hit a three-run homer, his seventh of the season, to left centerfield to move the Commodores in front 7-4. The freshman from Redding, California, finished the weekend as the leading hitter in the SEC.
The lead stood until the seventh when UT rallied for three runs to tie the score on a fielder's choice grounder to score a run by Blake Forsythe, an RBI hit by Frazier and Zach Osborne's sixth RBI hit of the weekend.
Davis led off the tenth inning with a single off of Vanderbilt reliever Nick Christiani, setting the stage for Hawn's heroics.
Christiani (5-5) pitched the final two innings of the game, surrendering two runs on two hits while striking out three.
Vanderbilt will take on SEC co-champion LSU (41-15, 20-10 SEC) in the No. 1 vs. No. 8 seed game on Wednesday at 5 p.m. in Hoover, Alabama.

(photos by Jimmy Jones)