May 21, 2009


CBI Live
White keeps Vanderbilt unbeaten in SEC tourney


By Jimmy Jones

Special to 


HOOVER, Ala. - Jonathan White (left) had three hits Thursday night for Vanderbilt but it was the hit that he didn't get that had the biggest impact on the game in a thrilling 5-4 win over South Carolina at Regions Park.
White came up with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth with two down and was down 0-2 in the count against Gamecock reliever Michael Roth (1-1) before taking three pitches out of the strike zone. He fouled off three pitches before watching the ninth pitch of the at-bat sail high and allow him to reach first with the game-winning RBI.
"Jonathan had a great at-bat at the end of the game, which gave us the go-ahead run," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "To just get into the situation where we could work the count to 3-2 was great. The way he is using the field too is great. He's hitting balls up the middle, down the line, and off the wall. I'm just happy for him. He deserves it because he has really worked hard. He hasn't had a lot to show for it until now."
South Carolina, ranked 23rd in the country in a composite poll by the College Baseball Insider, scored the first run of the game on an RBI groundout by DeAngelo Mack after a single by Bobby Haney and a perfectly placed bunt hit by Scott Wingo. Whit Merrifield laid down a sacrifice bunt to set the stage for Mack's grounder to VU first baseman Curt Casali.
VU took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when White led off with a line drive into left field and moved to third on a backside double by All-SEC performer Steven Liddle. Aaron Westlake scored White on a groundball out to the six hole before Andrew Giobbi's RBI two-bagger just inside the left field line plated Liddle.
The Gamecocks tied it in their half aided by a wild pitch by freshman starter Sonny Gray (left). Bobby Haney scored Nick Ebert but their bid to take the lead was thwarted when a hustling Brian Harris' dive knocked the hard hit ball down and he picked it up to throw out Andrew Crisp at the plate on a stay-with-it- tag by Commodore catcher Giobbi when Crisp over slid the plate on his first attempt and tried to sneak in on a second try. 
Back to back home runs by Giobbi, his seventh, and Westlake (6) gave the Commodores a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning and it looked as if Gray, another freshman, would make the lead stand up as he mowed the Gamecock hitters down in the seventh before running out of juice in the eighth.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. worked Gray for a walk to lead off the inning and Ebert followed with a double down the left field line to chase Gray, who had not pitched more than six innings all season.
Caleb Cotham relieved and got the first out on a popup by Justin Dalles before giving up an RBI grounder to Crisp. Richie Goodenow was brought in to face the announced pinch- hitter Jeffery Jones, a lefty, but was forced to pitch to Parker Bangs, a right-handed hitter instead. Bangs came through with a double to tie the score. Goodenow struck out Haney to end the inning.
VU took over the lead in the ninth on White's at-bat but South Carolina was not about to hand the game over. They loaded the bases with one out on hits by Wingo and Merrifeild off of Russell Brewer who relieved after the hit by Wingo off of Goodenow. Bradley Jr. drew a base on balls from Sean Beirman, the third pitcher of the inning, to load the bases with just one down.
Corbin called Chase Reid out to face Ebert and Reid induced a popup to Riley Reynolds at second base.
Reid then blew a pitch by Dalles to end the game and ensure a day of rest for the Commodores and advance them to the semi-final round of the tournament for the fourth consecutive year.
VU will take on the winner of an elimination game between Florida and Arkansas at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

White finished the night 3 for 4 and has six hits in the tourney.

Goodenow (1-1) picked up the win for VU with Reid notching his first save of the season.

(photos by Jimmy Jones)