A six inning, five strikeout performance from Matt Ruppenthal and two monster home runs from Will Toffey, pushed the Commodores past Clemson, 8-0 on Monday night and advanced into Super Regional action.
It was easily the best outing of the season for Ruppenthal, who had the Tigers off balance from the jump and continued to keep them in check until he left the game in the 6th inning. Ruppenthal had command of the strike zone and did great at getting ahead early with strikes and putting himself in position to get outs. His composure and performance on the mound was exactly what Vanderbilt needed and even more so, gave Ruppenthal confidence after struggling down the stretch.
While Ruppenthal was handling things on his end, it took the Vanderbilt offense a couple of innings to get going but when they did, they busted out big and basically took the game over.
It was the first of two home runs for Toffey in the 3rd inning where the Commodores got on the board first and never looked back. Toffey blasted a fast ball over the center field wall to give the VandyBoys an early 2-0 lead along with a growing confidence that this was their game to lose.
Vanderbilt put up four more runs in the 5th and of course a big chunk of the damage came by the hot bat of Toffey. A three run blast by Toffey put the Dores up 6-0 and had the Tigers in a hole, desperately trying to find a way to catch up but that was tough because Ruppenthal and the Commodores bullpen wouldn't allow Clemson to come back.
Head coach Tim Corbin went to the bullpen in the 7th inning after Ruppenthal kept the Tigers scoreless and a collective effort from Reed Hayes and Jackson Gillis kept things that way the rest of the game. The Vanderbilt pitchers held Clemson to a total of four hits on the night and when the Tigers did have opportunities at scoring, Ruppenthal, Hayes and Gillis, made key pitches to shut things down.
The Commodores won two of three games from the Tigers to win the Clemson Regional and advance to Super Regional play. Their reward for advancing is facing off with the NCAA Tournament overall No. 1 seed, Oregon State. The Beavers sport an amazing 52-4 overall record along with two starting pitchers who have ERA's under 2.00 and a potent, consistent offense. It will be a battle for the VandyBoys but this program has been built under Coach Corbin as a postseason team and they won't be scared of facing the Beavers on the road, in Corvallis.
Super Regional action begins this Friday with game one starting at 8:00 pm Central on ESPN2.
Game 1 (Friday) - 8 pm Central, ESPN2
Game 2 (Saturday) - 8 pm Central, ESPN
Game 3 (Sunday) - 8 pm Central, ESPN2/ESPNU