Many people think that this Vanderbilt baseball team is a pushover, but with solid defense, good pitching and timely hitting, they were able to hang around and steal one from the Bulldogs.
"We're a lot alike, we both have good defense and good pitching and each game is going to go right down to the wire," said J.B. Tucker. "We're going to come out pumped up (Sunday) and a couple guys will rise to the occasion, I can guarantee you that!"
Vandy starter Robert Ransom was able to scatter 9 hits over 7 innings while giving up just 3 runs. The Bulldogs left 5 runners on base. Ransom struck out 5 and walked only 1.
The Commodores started the scoring in the top of the 4th when 6-4, 225-lb., Cesar Nicolas, doubled down the left field line. Nicolas advanced to third on a balk - one of three called on the day by Arthur Schmidt - and scored on a double play.
The Bulldogs put together their biggest inning in the 4th when Brad Corley led off with a single followed by a Brent Lewis double down the left field line, moving Corley to third. Tucker brought both runners in with a line drive double to right field that one-hopped the wall. Tucker advanced to third after a Tyler Scarbrough sacrifice fly. Joseph Hunter scored Tucker on a sacrifice fly to left.
After four innings the Dawgs had a 3-1 lead.
Vandy again struck in the 6th, off of another leadoff double, this one by Worth Scott. Matthew Brinson overthrew Johnson trying to cover first and Scott scored to bring the 'Dores within one at 3-2.
The Dawgs held onto their lead into the top of the 9th when Robby Goodson replaced Brian Owens, who had retired four of the five players he faced. Goodson beaned the first two guys he faced and allowed a single to load the bases, which prompted Head Coach Ron Polk to bring in Jaime Gant to get the final three outs. The redshirt freshman brought the crowd to its feet by striking out the first two batters he faced with fastballs. However, the next batter, Ryan Godfrey, stuck out the bat and made contact with one of Gant's fastballs sending it into right field scoring two Commodores.
The Bulldogs out-hit the Commodores with Tucker's 3 hits and 2 RBI leading the way. Steve Gendron, Brad Corley, and Brent Lewis had two hits apiece. Gendron has a current team-leading hit streak of 8 games.
Coach Polk knew that a few mistakes early in the game would come back to haunt the Bulldogs in the late innings.
"We had a couple things happen like the pop-up slide (2nd inning) that negated one run and it could have turned into a big inning for us with the bases loaded and no outs," said Polk. "We ended up walking six guys and that made it difficult, especially at the end.
"We knew with their pitching and our pitching it would be a close series and that has proved to be the case," said Polk. "Today they got the right hit at the right time."
The Bulldogs had trouble after forcing Ransom from the game in the form of sidearm southpaw John Scott. Scott gave up one hit and walked one in two full innings of work to get the win.
Brian Emory is a free-lance correspondent for Gene's Page. Brian is student at Mississippi State University. You can contact Brian by email at email@example.com.