May 20, 2009


CBI Live
Minor tosses gem for Vanderbilt against LSU


By Jimmy Jones

Special to 


HOOVER, Ala.  - It was not as if Vanderbilt's ace Mike Minor (right) had anything to prove to Major League scouts when he took the mound against Number 1-seed LSU in the opening round of the SEC Tournament Wednesday night. It just may have been the best nine innings of his career.
Minor, the ace of the U.S. National Team last summer that went 24-0, proved once again that he is a prime-time pitcher when he held the vaunted Tiger offense to just six hits and one paltry earned run in a dominant complete-game effort to vault the eighth-seeded Commodores (32-24) into the winner's bracket on Thursday. It was his second complete game in his last three starts.
"Early in the game, I wasn't really pitching, I was just throwing the ball," Minor said. "I got lucky with my defense backing me up and turning double plays. Later in the ballgame, I started feeling my stuff, and started throwing more off-speed, more curveballs and sliders. And then in the eighth and ninth inning, I clicked in and I felt like I was just starting the game - and it worked for us."
Battery-mate Andrew Giobbi (left) jump-started the Dores with a drive over the left field fence in the fourth inning to put his young team up 1-0. It would be a lead that they would not relinquish as they would added another run in the fifth on a walk to All-SEC shortstop Brian Harris that was followed by a double off of the left field wall by Jonathan White that just missed going out.
The Tigers (45-16) elected to intentionally walk Steven Liddle to load the bases. Curt Casali just missed a grand slam that was caught at the base of the wall in the deepest part of the park off of Austin Ross to plate Harris to make the score 2-0.
White struck again in the seventh when he led off the seventh with a line drive right back where it came from for a single. Liddle made it two hits in a row for VU to place runners at first and third.
Casali crushed a two-bagger to left to score White, followed by a sacrifice fly by the SEC-leading hitter Aaron Westlake to score Liddle to advance the score to 4-0.
LSU managed a run in the bottom of the seventh on a double by Tyler Hanover and an RBI groundout by Austin Nola to account for the final tally.
Austin Ross (left) was the tough-luck loser in the game. He threw six innings and allowed four earned runs while striking out four.
Minor struck out five and walked three to move his record to 6-4 on the season. With his five strikeouts he became only the fifth pitcher in the SEC this season to strike out more than 100 hitters (104). The feat moves him into fourth place among the all-time leaders in school history. The win ties him for seventh all-time with David Price and Rick Rhodes.
Vanderbilt will face the winner of the No. 4 seed Alabama/ No. 5 seed South Carolina contest Thursday night at 8:30 p.m.

(photos by Jimmy Jones)