Vanderbilt (52-9) will meet Illinois in the winner's bracket at 7 p.m. CT Saturday on ESPNU. ETSU (36-23) will play an elimination game against Georgia Tech at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The Commodores did not waste any time at the plate, as the Dores struck for five runs in the bottom of the first. Xavier Turner got the inning started with an infield single, followed by a single from Mike Yastrzemski. Another infield single from Connor Harrell loaded the bases for Conrad Gregor, who immediately drove in two runs on a base hit up the middle. A RBI-single from Rhett Wiseman, a sacrifice fly from Vince Conde and another RBI-single from Spencer Navin gave VU a 5-0 lead.
After the torrid start to the game, VU was held without a hit until the sixth inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, Jack Lupo led off the inning by advancing to second on a throwing error by ETSU shortstop Chris Riopedre. Two batters later, Turner drove in Lupo on a single. Stepping up to the plate with a runner on, Connor Harrell sent his 12th home run of the season over the left-center field wall to give Vandy an 8-1 lead. Lupo drove in the final run of the game on a sacrifice fly to give Vanderbilt its final score of 9-1.
ETSU scratched out its lone run of the game on a sacrifice fly from Clinton Freeman in the sixth inning.
Kevin Ziomek (11-2) threw seven innings and struck out five in the start, while allowing just one run on three hits. He lowered his season ERA to 1.92 after his 12th quality start on the hill. Steven Rice finished the final two innings in place of Ziomek. Rice gave up two hits and struck out two.
Jimmy Nesselt (2-3) took the loss for the Buccaneers. After giving up five runs in the first inning, Nesselt settled in and retired 16 of the next 18 Commodores. He left the game after 6.2 innings, allowing eight runs, five earned, on 10 hits.
As a team, Vanderbilt registered 11 hits on the night. Turner, Harrell, Gregor and Wiseman all had multi-hit games. Harrell and Gregor each went 2-for-4 with two RBI, while Harrell also scored two runs. The two RBI for Harrell brought his season total to 66. Seven of the nine hitters in the VU lineup recorded at least one hit on the evening.
Head coach Tim Corbin was pleased with the team's quick start.
"We got off to a good start," said Corbin. "That first inning where we pushed across five runs was big especially in the first game of the tournament because they're not easy to play regardless of whether you've been here or not. I thought (ETSU starter Jimmy) Nesselt settled down a little bit and kept us off the ball, but during that time, we needed a very good pitching performance in order to contain the ball game. Five runs against that particular team that hits well is not enough, and Kevin did a good job of getting into the 8th inning. Then we separated ourselves a little bit at the end. Good start for us, obviously winning an opening game is a big deal."
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