The Commodores are now 36-16, while Middle Tennessee is 34-18. VU's 36 wins sets the school record for most wins in a regular season, surpassing the old mark of 35 set in 1985. The school record for most wins, including post-season play, is 37 set in 1974 by the last team that advanced to a NCAA regional. VU recorded a 12-1 record in midweek games this season.
"This is a big RPI win because I feel like MTSU will get to a regional if they play well this weekend," VU Head Coach Tim Corbin said. "(MTSU) is in a good conference (Sun Belt) and anytime you can beat a team like that you help yourself in the RPI. It's a win and that's what is most important to us right now."
The Commodores got on the board in the first inning. With one away, Antoan Richardson doubled when the ball bounced past shortstop Jeff Beachum. Warner Jones then doubled to left center field scoring Richardson. VU added one in the third inning when Ryan Klosterman scored on a wild pitch by Shay Horseman. Klosterman reached on a double to the right field corner and moved to third on a bunt by Richardson.
MTSU cut the VU lead to one in the fourth inning. With Mike Wagner on the mound for the Commodores, Derek Phillips reached base when Klosterman bobbled the ball and moved to second when Brett Carroll walked. Phillips scored on Shane Kemp's single to left field. On that play, Carroll was thrown out at third on an assist from left fielder Aaron Garza and Klosterman.
Mike Baxter started the Commodore fourth inning with a hit down the middle followed by single to left center field by Aaron Garza. Tony Mansolino struck out, but Baxter and Garza both stole bases on the third strike. Baxter scored on Worth Scott's ground out to first base.
With one away in the fifth inning, MTSU's Troy Harp reached base when his hit went past Jones to right field. He moved to third on Eric McNamee's single to right field. Chuck Akers then drew a walk to load the bases that forced a VU pitching change – Stephen Shao for Wagner. Shao struck out Derek Phillips – the first strikeout of the game for the Commodores – and forced Carroll to pop up left field to retire the side without any Blue Raiders crossing home.
Vanderbilt added two runs in the fifth for a 5-1 lead. Klosterman hit a single to left field and moved to second when Eric Blevins overthrew first base on an attempted pickoff. Richardson drew a walk and Klosterman scored when Jones collected his second hit of the game. Richardson scored on a single by Cesar Nicolas, his 57th RBI on the season. Danny Borne came in relief of Eric Belvins and threw one pitch – a sacrifice bunt by Baxter moving Jones to third and Nicolas to second. Matt Scott then came in for the Blue Raiders and struck out Garza and forced Mansolino to ground out to the first baseman to retire the side.
MTSU threatened in the seventh with bases loaded and two away, but Jeff Sues forced Jeff Beachum to pop up to centerfield to retire the side.
Klosterman collected his seventh triple of the season in the eighth inning to break the Vanderbilt single season triple record. The previous record was six held by Ryan Montgomery (1997), Joey Cora (1985); and Rick Duncan (1975). He scored on Jones' 90th hit of the season – a shot down the middle to center field. Jones is now six hits away from the school record for hits in a season held by Hunter Bledsoe with 95 (1999).
"It's pretty neat, especially when you realize that Joey Cora was one of the three players who had the record before me," Klosterman said about the record. "Lately I have been seeing the ball very well and been feeling comfortable at the plate, and that has helped me get on base so my teammates can have chances to drive in runs for the team."
With one away in the ninth inning, MTSU loaded the bases when Nate Jaggers drew a walk, Shane Kemp singled and Beachum walked. VU closer Ryan Rote then struck out pinch hitter Chase Eakes and Tony Mansolino made a diving catch into the dugout to record the final out.
Freshman Tyler Rhoden was one of seven Commodore pitchers in the contest starting the game and going 2.0 innings giving up only one walk. He earned his second win of the season.
Shay Horseman picked up the loss going 3.2 innings giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits and striking out one.
MTSU stranded 17 runners on base and totaled six hits and 12 walks. VU totaled 11 hits and drew three walks in the contest leaving 11 men on base.
Vanderbilt ends the regular season this weekend with a three-game series against Kentucky at Hawkins Field.