June 8, 2014


Vandy Bound for Omaha

By Gary Johnson
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com

NASHVILLE - For the second time in four years, the Vanderbilt Commodores are headed to the College World Series.


Two big innings at the plate led the way as Vanderbilt claimed a 12-5 win over Stanford on Sunday afternoon in the Nashville Super Regional. It was the third sellout of the Nashville Super Regional with 3,626 in attendance, not including hundreds of fans gathered in a parking garage overlooking right field.


“First, I congratulate Stanford,” Commodores coach Tim Corbin said. “I say that for a lot of different reasons, not just because they won [the Bloomington Regional], but because of the road they took to get here. It was not easy. That’s a tough group. They had to do a lot of traveling during exams. They had to come through Indiana, which was not easy at all. You witnessed a very resilient team that kept coming back and forth. They’ve also been the model for this program. I say that with all due respect. That’s a guy [Coach Mark Marquess] that’s been doing this for 37 years.


“I’m happy for the kids as always. Hayden Stone picked us up today in a huge way. The offense was good, I’m happy for Johnny Norwood. There’s a lot of emotions, but I’m just happy for this group and for Vanderbilt University.”


Stone, a Commodores reliever, entered in the fourth inning and was outstanding, pitching the final six innings without an earned run. The freshman right-hander allowed three hits while striking out eight with only a pair of walks.


When asked what pitches were working well for him, Stone said, “My breaking ball with two strikes and just locating my fastball pretty well, too. Especially with the great defense behind me. It was just easy to pump the zone, and just let them work.”


Vanderbilt (46-19) batted around and rallied for five runs on six hits in the first inning, chasing Stanford starter Logan James after just two outs.


Second baseman Dansby Swanson led off with a line-drive single up the middle, stole second base on a pickoff attempt then advanced to third on a fielder’s choice by Bryan Reynolds (3 for 5, 2 R, RBI). Vince Conde (3 for 5, 2 R, 2 RBI) ripped a single up the middle to score Swanson then stole second. Zander Wiel followed with a RBI double into right field to score Conde. Xavier Turner hit a single to put runners on first and third, and Rhett Wiseman laid down a safety squeeze to score Wiel and advance Turner to second. John Norwood (3 for 4, 2 R, 2 RBI) collected the Commodores fifth hit of the inning to score Turner. Norwood stole second and scored on Jason Delay’s single for a 5-0 lead.


Vandy starter Walker Buehler gave up a pair of singles but managed to strikeout the side in the bottom of the first.


The Cardinals (35-26) got on the board in the bottom of the third when Tommy Edman and Danny Diekroeger (3 for 4) singled before Alex Blandino doubled to score Edman. Zach Hoffpauir reached on an error at second by Swanson that led to a pair of runs. Wayne Taylor stepped up to the plate and tripled to score Hoffpauir to cut the lead to 5-4.


Norwood led off the fourth with a double and later scored when Reynolds singed to increase the lead to 6-4 for Vanderbilt.


The Cardinal answered in the bottom half. Brett Michael Doran struck out but advanced on a wild pitch. Edman singled and both runners moved up on a pickoff attempt at first. Blandino’s sacrifice fly scored Doran to make it 6-5.


Vanderbilt struck for four runs in the seventh to go up 10-5.


Swanson led off with a single then Reynolds belted a double off the wall as Swanson advanced to third. Conde’s infield single scored Swanson and moved Reynolds to third. Wiel reached on a fielder’s choice, and Reynolds scored on a throwing error. Conde later scored on a Turner sacrifice and Wiel stole third, and Norwood added an RBI single.


The Commodores added two more in the eighth as Swanson walked and Reynolds singled, both scoring on throwing errors for a 12-5 edge.


“First of all Congratulations to Vanderbilt,” Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. “They did a great job. We couldn’t stop them all day. They hit the ball, they run the bases well. We came back and had a chance, we got within one. They kept the pressure on us and played a great game.


“I’m sure they will do really well in the College World Series. They have a little bit of everything pitching, defense, they can swing the bat. So congratulations to them, they beat us every which way they could today.”


Corbin said he learned a few things on the Commodores first trip to Omaha, which came in 2011.


“I thought we played pretty well the first time to be honest with you. We ran into a very good Florida team and we couldn’t get through them. I thought the kids handled it very well. I’ll probably go back and look at how we did that. I made a lot of notes, a lot of suggestions to myself before, after, during, what have you, but it’s really all about playing good baseball and not being enamored with the circumstances once you get out there.”