A big 5th inning from the Vanderbilt bats and a steady, rock solid performance on the mound from Patrick Raby, pushed the Commodores to a 13-4 commanding win over St. John's.
Vanderbilt 3rd baseman Will Toffey was the player of the day and a huge reason as to why the Commodores won the game. He got things started in the 1st inning with a lead-off double and would eventually come around to score off Jeren Kendall's grounder to 1st base. The Dores took an early 1-0 lead but would go quiet at the plate over the next couple of innings.
Raby settled in early against the Johnnies keeping them in check. St. John's would scratch out a run in the 3rd to tie the game at 1-1 but it was in the 5th where the Red Storm would land a massive blow to the gut.
A two run triple from Red Storm 1st baseman John Valente put St. John's up 3-1 and feeling good about themselves going forward. Why shouldn't they feel good. They had Big East Pitcher of the Year Sean Mooney on the mound and cruising. After giving up a run in the 1st, the Johnnies top pitcher began getting comfortable on the mound. Mooney is an overpowering pitcher but his ball placement and confidence in his pitches kept the Commodores guessing.
Well after giving up the lead in the top of the inning, the Vanderbilt bats finally awoke in the bottom of the 5th. Back to back singles from J.J Bleday and Connor Kaiser sparked the inning and put two runners on base for Toffey. The junior came to the plate and gave the Dores exactly what they needed as he blasted a three run home run over the left center field wall to push Vanderbilt into the lead at 4-3.
Toffey's big blow over the wall busted the game open for the Commodores as they would go on to put four more runs on the board while chasing Mooney out of the game. The freshman right hander finished his outing going 4.0 innings, allowing 6 earned runs on 10 hits while striking out three. Mooney came into today's game only giving up 13 earned runs on the entire season. It might have taken Vanderbilt a few innings to figure out Mooney but once they did, it was on.
After taking a four run lead, all Vanderbilt needed Raby to do was control the game and not allow the Red Storm to charge back. He did exactly that going 7.0 innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 6 hits while striking out 3 Johnnie hitters. Raby had one bad inning but overall was solid and would eventually go on to pick up his 10th win of the season. Vanderbilt would go on to push across 6 more runs over the next 3.5 innings to pick up the victory and move into the winner's bracket.
Toffey wasn't the only guy who contributed today all though he went 4-5 on the day with a home run, a double, 4 runs scored along with 4 RBI's, so yea he was the best but others like Julian Infante (3-5), Ro Coleman (2-3), Kendall (2-4) and Kaiser (2-2) had good day's themselves. Infante (3) and Kendall (4) combined for 7 RBI's on the day while both Coleman and Kaiser had big single's into the outfield along with both scoring twice. Vanderbilt also had a total of 4 strikeouts at the plate today and Kendall had none of them. It was a good mixture of hitting between the top of the order and the bottom of the lineup.
Friday was a good day for the VandyBoys but they must move on and forget about it. They must now focus on the winner of Clemson/UNC-Greensboro in tomorrow night's winner's bracket game. 1st pitch is set for 6:00 pm Central with TV destination to be announced sometime tonight or tomorrow.
Star pitcher Kyle Wright will be on the bump for Vanderbilt with hopefully an offense that backs up him up at the plate. If they hit like they did today, the Commodores and Wright could be in store for another fun night of baseball.