Bats come alive, VU pounds Razorbacks 14-8

NASHVILLE-- Cesar Nicolas hit two home runs and had four RBI to lead No. 22 Vanderbilt to a 14-8 victory over the No. 21 Arkansas Razorbacks Sunday before a standing-room only crowd at Hawkins Field. VU is now 26-10, 7-8 in the SEC, while Arkansas is 25-13, 10-5 in league action.

NASHVILLE-- Cesar Nicolas hit two home runs and had four RBI to lead No. 22 Vanderbilt to a 14-8 victory over the No. 21 Arkansas Razorbacks Sunday before a standing-room only crowd at Hawkins Field. VU is now 26-10, 7-8 in the SEC, while Arkansas is 25-13, 10-5 in league action.

The Commodores scored four runs in the first inning and never trailed. Ryan Klosterman was hit by a pitch then reached third on pitcher Justin White's errant pickoff attempt. Mike Baxter's single to centerfield scored Klosterman and put Vanderbilt in front for the first time in the series. Warner Jones followed with a single to left center, and Nicolas drew a walk to load the bases.

At that point White was pulled and replaced by Trey Holloway without recording an out. Tony Mansolino's ground out to third base scored Baxter. Worth Scott reached on an error by the pitcher. He then was caught in a run down between first and second for the second out, which ultimately allowed Nicolas to score.

"We needed some momentum more than anything else because the first two games didn't start the way we wanted them to," Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin said. "Today we got four runs but probably more than those runs was the way we came back in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings-– they scored, we scored, they scored, we scored-– so the rebound runs were huge. They are a tough, tough team to keep down."

Arkansas scored once in the fourth inning when Blake Parker's single up the middle scored Clay Goodwin, who led off the inning with a double to left center field. With bases loaded, Brady Toops struck out to end the threat.

Vanderbilt added three runs in the bottom half of the inning for a 7-1 lead. Mansolino led off with a standup double and moved to third when Scott grounded out down the first base line. With two away, Stephen Shao - who earned his first start of his career in left field - hit a standup double that scored Mansolino. The double was Shao's first extra base hit and third hit of the season.

Jay Sawatski then came in relief for Holloway. On a 2-2 count, Jonathan Douillard hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot off the scoreboard in right center field.

"When you get the opportunity you have to capitalize on it," Shao said. "That's my motto, Carpe Diem-– Seize the Day."

The Razorbacks narrowed VU's lead to two, 7-5 in the fifth inning. Casey Rowlett led off the inning with a single to left field and stole second. Clay Goodwin singled to right, and Scott Hode was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Haas Pratt hit a sacrifice fly to right field off reliever Tyler Rhoden scoring Rowlett. With two away, Dugger hit the first pitch over the right field fence - his third home run of the series.

The Commodores answered with four runs of their own in their half of the fifth. Baxter led off with a single up the middle and scored when Jones hit a blooper in shallow right field. Nicolas then hit a two-run home run off the scoreboard. Mansolino hit a single over the shortstop and stole second. Shao doubled and recorded his second RBI of the game, scoring Mansolino for an 11-5 lead.

Arkansas added two in the sixth. Toops doubled off the left field wall and scored when Hamblin doubled to left field. Hamblin then scored on a single by Goodwin.

Klosterman led off the sixth inning for the Commodores with a single to right field off reliever Boyd Goodner. Jones doubled off the left field wall, moving Klosterman to third. Nicolas was intentionally walked to load the bases. Scott was hit by the first pitch scoring Klosterman.

Arkansas threatened with two away in the eighth inning when Rowlett and Hamblin each drew walks and Goodwin hit a single to right field to load the bases. Hode then hit a shot to left field for the final out and strand three base runners.

Vanderbilt added two runs in the eighth when Nicolas hit his second home run of the game, scoring Jones who reached base after being hit by a pitch. It marked the second time this season Nicolas has hit two home runs in a game.

"I have just been working a lot on letting the ball get deeper (in the hitting zone) and not really trying to do too much," Nicolas said. "The situation with the first one, I was just trying to drive the ball and score the run, and fortunately it went out of the park."

The Razorbacks added one run in the ninth before right-handed closer Ryan Rote struck out Rowlett to end the game. There were a total of 25 hits in the contest, 13 by Vanderbilt.

"It's good to know we have some offense as opposed to last year, where we didn't have so much and relied a lot on our pitching and defense," Nicolas added. "We know we are going to have good pitching and play good defense, so to add the offense is a bonus."

Matt Buschmann earned the win for the Commodores going 2.0 innings and giving up one hit while walking two and striking out one. Starter Ryan Mullins went 4.1 innings giving up four runs (four earned) on six hits. He walked one and struck out seven. Tyler Rhoden went 1.2 innings giving up three runs (three earned) on four hits and struck out two.

The Commodores travel to Middle Tennessee Tuesday and Western Kentucky Wednesday before a three-game SEC series at Florida this weekend.

Score by Innings                   R H E
ARKANSAS............ 000 142 001 - 8 12 2
Vanderbilt.......... 400 341 02X - 14 13 1

Win - M. Buschmann (5-1). Loss - White (1-2). Save - None.
Start: 1:05 pm Time: 3:00 Attendance: 1704
White faced 4 batters in the 1st. Top Stories