Sopomore left-hander Ryan Mullins earned his second win of the season pitching seven innings and giving up eight hits, two runs (two earned) and striking out three. Sophomore right-hander Matt Buschmann went one inning striking out one and junior right-hander Ryan Rote closed out the game with three strikeouts in the top of the ninth.
"Ryan Mullins was solid today," Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin said. "I knew that Matt Buschmann and Ryan Rote would go regardless of the score. It is very easy to be lax when you are in there with an 11-2 lead, but a guy like Ryan Rote is not going to let up. He pounded the strike zone with fast balls all inning," Corbin added.
Sophomore shortstop Rucker Taylor earned his first start of the season after Ryan Klosterman suffered a slight concussion in batting practice. Taylor collected a hit and totaled two putouts with four assists.
"I thought Rucker Taylor did a nice job at shortstop and he made some big plays when the game wasn't decided. Then, we just separated ourselves with some big hits in the seventh and eighth innings. Cesar Nicolas had a big day as well." Corbin added.
Nicolas started the Commodores' scoring in the second when he led off the inning with a double. Sophomore DH Mike Baxter grounded out to the pitcher and Nicolas advanced to third. Junior third baseman Tony Mansolino hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield, scoring Nicolas.
The Commodores added one in the third inning when senior catcher Jonathan Douillard began the inning with a double. Taylor grounded out to the pitcher advancing Douillard to third. Freshman left fielder Aaron Garza hit a sacrifice fly to left field scoring Douillard.
Vanderbilt scored three runs in the fifth inning when Taylor led off with a single up the middle. Garza doubled to left center scoring Taylor. Garza advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from junior centerfielder Antoan Richardson. Sophomore second baseman Warner Jones recorded another RBI-- his 26th of the season-- when he singled up the middle scoring Garza but was caught stealing at second. Nicolas drew a walk and Baxter singled to right field advancing Nicolas to third. Nicolas scored his second run of the day on a passed ball.
With Vanderbilt leading 5-0 in the top of the sixth, the Bearcats got on the scoreboard with two runs. With one away, Brian Beltz singled to left field and advanced to second on a ground out to third base. Beltz scored when Jack Nelson hit a single to left field. Nelson then scored on a Jon DeLuca double.
The Commodores scored six more runs, including two in the seventh and four in the eighth.
After Jones reached base after being hit by a pitch, Nicolas hit his first home run of the season over the 400-foot wall in center field.
"This season, I have wanted to be hitting better," Nicolas said. "Today it didn't hurt that the wind was blowing out. I just have to keep working hard and my stroke will improve."
Taylor started the eighth inning reaching base on an error by the shortstop and advancing to second on the throw. Junior left fielder Matt Zeller (for Garza) singled to centerfield and Richardson followed with a walk loading the bases with no one out. After a Cincinnati double play, Nicolas doubled down the right field line scoring Richardson and Zeller. Baxter followed with a home run, his second of the season, scoring Nicolas.
The Commodores have out hit opponents 144-69 and own a .372 batting average.
"We've definitely bettered ourselves offensively and that has been big for us," Corbin said. "I'm very excited to get on the road and see what type of team we have. It should be very exciting."
"I think we are doing a good job of coming out to the ballpark every day with the same goal and that is to win," Nicolas added. "We have the aggressiveness and attitude of doing whatever it takes to win. We're getting good pitching and offensive power and everybody has been picking each other up out there."
After 11 home games, the Commodores travel to Austin Peay Tuesday for a 4 pm game, and then to Waco, Texas, for a three-game series with the Bears Friday-Sunday (March 12-14).