A strong performance from starting pitcher Kyle Wright and yet another solid locked in mindset at the plate led the Commodores over Clemson, 9-4 and moved into the Sunday night winner's bracket game.
Vanderbilt struck first on the scoreboard in the 4th inning after catcher Jason Delay laced a double down the right field line to score Reed Hayes from third. Harrison Ray made it 2-0 after his sac fly to center field. Possibly the hottest hitter in the country right now, Will Toffey made it 3-0 after he fought off a two out, two strike count to hit an opposite field double.
Clemson starter Charlie Barnes looked sharp early against the Dores but in the 4th, Vanderbilt figured him out and would make things even worse for the Tigers number one guy in the 6th.
The Commodores busted the game wide open in the 6th inning, putting up four more runs with all the damage being done on two outs .Barnes walked Ray to keep the inning alive for Vanderbilt. Connor Kaiser followed the Ray by singling through the right to put two men on base for that guy named Toffey. Batting over .550 since his return from injury, Toffey came through yet again, singling past Tigers 1st baseman Andrew Cox. Senior outfielder Ro Coleman had the big hit of the inning when he doubled into left field, scoring two while keeping the inning going for Jeren Kendall who followed Coleman's double with a double of his own. Vanderbilt pushed the lead out to 7-0 and was feeling good as they had potential 1st overall draft pick Wright doing his thing on the mound.
Vanderbilt's star pitcher was excellent on Saturday night. From the 1st inning all the way into the 7th, Wright controlled the game with his right arm and had the Tigers reeling at the plate. Wright's breaking ball was the tone setter while his two seem fastball was unhittable. Clemson was able to collect hits over the first five innings with chances at scoring but every time Wright needed to get an out, he got it.
The Tigers was able to finally get after Wright in the 6th inning when they scored three runs with the big blast coming off Andrew Cox's two run double. Wright did however come back out for the 7th and quickly attain three outs to close out his night on the mound. His stat line was solid pitching seven innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits while striking out nine and walking only one. It was honestly an outstanding performance from Wright and a great sign that Vanderbilt has a marquee arm during postseason play, pitching at the right time.
Freshman Zach King took over in the 8th and while he did give up a solo home run to the first batter he faced, he settled in and cruised the through the final two innings, helping the Commodores pick up the win.
The Commodores now sit in a great situation being 2-0 and having to sit back and watch to see who their opponent will be. Clemson faces UNC-Greensboro in an elimination game on Sunday and whoever wins that game must turn right around and take on Vanderbilt that night. The VandyBoys opponent must play twice in one day, just to keep the regional going. If Vanderbilt wins in their game of the regional, they would advance and move on into super regional action next week.
Game time for Vanderbilt is set for 6 pm Central but that could change due to weather or the first game of the day starting late or going over. The game will be aired on ESPNU.