June 4, 2010
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Illinois State in 13
By Jimmy Jones
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
(photos by Jimmy Jones)
Kentucky--It had all the elements of a good Clint Eastwood
movie when the Illinois State Redbirds and Vanderbilt Commodores
squared off in Game 1 of the Louisville Regional Friday
It was good because both teams played their
hearts out for 13 innings in sweltering heat in front of an
It was bad because despite leaving it all on the
field and playing well enough to win on most days, one team had
It was ugly because a blown call at first base,
which cost the Commodores a run that would have been the
difference in regulation, allowed the game to be extended in the
VU won the game 8-7 in the most improbable way
imaginable in the bottom of the 13th inning when head coach Tim
Corbin found himself out of right-handed pinch-hitters and
called upon pitcher Jack Armstrong (above) to hit with Andrew
Giobbi, who doubled to lead off the inning, on second base and
Curt Casali on first after an intentional walk to keep the force
in play for the Redbird defense.
who had exactly two at-bats for the season, promptly lined a
single into right field to score Giobbi (left), whose
outstanding read on the throw allowed him to slide around the
catcher Matt Mirabal's sweeping tag with the winning run to end
the longest NCAA game in school history for Vanderbilt.
"Coach (Josh) Holliday told me to get ready by
the 7th or 8th inning," said Armstrong. "Mentally I was trying
to get prepared. Actually I visualized that exact hit. I don't
know how it happened but it was kind of fate to be honest with
you. I listened to the other guys to figure out what the pitcher
was doing and took a nice opposite field approach and let fate
turn out that way."
"Tough ballgame," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim
Corbin. "Sometimes they're not easy. It's good to get the first
one and get in that winner's bracket. I would just have to say
the highlight of it was the pitching that we received after the
third inning. I thought our relief pitching was outstanding. The
defense, during the course of the game, turned two double plays.
Those were the difference right there."
"Our offense just battled, and it was good to see
a kid come off the bench who hits every day and doesn't
necessarily get the repetitions on the field. He got a big hit
when we needed it most. He drove the ball down the right field
line and Andrew made a very nice slide at the plate. It was a
tough, tough ballgame. Tough for Illinois State and good for us.
We have to go home and rest and look forward to tomorrow."
The Redbirds jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the
first with the help of two Commodore miscues. Starter Taylor
Hill plunked leadoff hitter Kevin Tokarski to begin the rally.
Jake Thornton singled to left and Matt Mirabal walked to load
the bases. Hill got Anthony Ruffolo to pop out before Ryan Court
hit a deep fly to center that a normally sure-handed Connor
Harrell misjudged, ran in, and then back, in an effort to make
the catch. He was in position to make the catch, but the ball
glanced off his glove allowing three runs to score.
The Commodores cut the lead to 3-2 on a RBI
single by Giobbi in the third and added a second run on a
base-loaded walk to Brian Harris.
ISU bumped the margin to
6-2 with three in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Chad Hinshaw
and a RBI double by Brett Kay to end Hill's day on the bump.
Left-hander Grayson Garvin came on in relief and gave up a RBI
single to Jake Thornton to account for the final tally of the
VU cut into the lead in the fourth with two runs
to make it 6-4. Harris led off with a walk, and Aaron Westlake
followed suit. Jason Esposito then scorched a line drive to left
that hit the top of the wall and bounced back in for a double to
score Harris. Joe Loftus grounded to the right side to score
Westlake launched a massive two-run homer over
the left-centerfield wall after an Anthony Gomez leadoff double
in the sixth to tie the game. Jason Esposito hit a grounder into
the hole at short and appeared to have clearly beaten the throw
to first but was called out before Joe Loftus lofted a solo
homer to right-center to give the Commodores their first lead of
solo homer by Mirabel (left) to right field in the top of the
seventh tied the game at 7-7 for the Redbirds.
Drew Hayes picked up the win with two scoreless
innings of relief for Vanderbilt.
The Commodores will play Louisville Saturday at 4
p.m. in the second round. The Redbirds meet Saint Louis at noon
in an elimination game.