Baseball: Vanderbilt 9, Lipscomb 1

NASHVILLE (VUAD)-- Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin couldn't have scripted things much better for his Commodores in their opening game of the Nashville Regional.

With ace Carson Fulmer returning to form and leadoff hitter Ro Coleman reaching base five times, the No. 1-seeded Commodores cruised to a 9-1 victory over No. 4-seeded Lipscomb in front of a sellout crowd of 3,626 at Hawkins Field.

Vanderbilt (43-19), the defending national champions, will face No. 3-seeded Indiana in the winner's bracket on Saturday at 7 p.m. Lipscomb (39-19), which beat Vanderbilt during the regular season, falls into the elimination bracket and will face Radford at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Fulmer pitched seven strong innings, limiting Lipscomb to one run on four hits and striking out 11 while improving to 12-2. The solid performance enabled Fulmer to bounce back from last week's rough outing in the SEC Tournament -- when he allowed a career-high six runs in a loss to Texas A&M -- and pushed his home record to 7-0 with an 0.79 ERA.

Vanderbilt's offense supported him with 13 hits, including three each by Coleman and Bryan Reynolds. Jeren Kendall added two hits and three RBIs, including a two-run homer in the second inning, his sixth homer of the season.

"I know the score was 9-1 but it didn’t feel that way. It felt like a very highly contested game, which I thought it was. We had the one inning that broke open, but we beat a good team. We beat a very scrappy team." TIM CORBIN

Nursing a 3-1 lead, the Commodores broke the game open with five-run sixth inning. Vanderbilt sent nine batters to the plate during the rally, which included Will Toffey's two-run single and Reynolds' RBI double. Karl Ellison also had run-scoring single, and Tyler Campbell added a sacrifice fly.

Fulmer, the SEC Pitcher of the Year, labored through the first three innings before settling into a dominating groove. After issuing a leadoff walk in the fourth, he retired 12 of the next 14 hitters. He fanned eight batters during that stretch, including striking out the side in the seventh, en route to his seventh double-digit strikeout performance of the season. He led the SEC this season in wins, strikeouts and ERA.

Collin Snider closed out the win with two scoreless innings of one-hit ball.

Five Vanderbilt players finished with multiple hits, led by Coleman's 3-for-3 effort with two runs scored. Reynolds was 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Rhett Wiseman, Toffey and Kendall added two hits each.

Adam Lee drove in the lone run for Lipscomb with a single in the third inning after Vanderbilt had jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on Kendall's homer in the second.

Lipscomb starter Ian Martinez-McGraw (7-4) took the loss, allowing three runs on seven hits in 4 1-3 innings. Reliever Nick Andros was charged with five runs, all earned, on five hits in 1 2-3 innings.

Vanderbilt lefty Philip Pfeifer (4-4, 4.06) is scheduled to face Indiana's Christian Morris (4-1, 5.18) in Saturday's game.

NOTES: Kendall's home run Friday was VU's 58th of the season, including nine during the postseason. (The Commodores hit a team-high eight homers at the SEC Tournament). Vanderbilt hit just 22 homers in 2014. ... Vanderbilt improved to 25-8 at Hawkins Field this season. ... This is the Commodores' 10th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

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