"Quite a pitching performance from start to finish," Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin said of Sowers outing. "He was about as good as I have seen him. He's had a lot of good ones, but this one ranks right up there, especially in the position we were in. Having to come in and win the first tournament game to stay in the winners bracket-– it was a great start for us."
Sowers struck out four of the first eight batters he faced, before Kyle Keen collected the first hit of the day for the Bulldogs. Only four Bulldogs reached base, including the three hits and one error. Keen, who collected two of Georgia's three hits, was stranded on second in the third and picked off in the fifth.
"We mixed up the pitches a lot," commented Sowers. "My fastball had a lot of life to it, and I was able to force some early ground balls. I had particularly good command today, and our scouting reports (from Coach Derek Johnson) were right on the money. We did our research and it paid off."
The Commodores got on the board in the first inning after Klosterman led off with a walk and stole second. Klosterman moved to third on a ground out by Warner Jones and scored when shortstop Justin Holmes' throw bounced past first baseman Josh Morris. Cesar Nicolas got the RBI, but the run was unearned.
In the third inning, Douillard led off with a double to left center. Klosterman grounded out and Richardson drew a walk. Jones then hit a RBI single to shallow center field to score Douillard and move Richardson to third. Nicolas followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center that scored Richardson. Mike Baxter then hit a line drive to Josh Smith at third to retire the side with Vanderbilt leading, 3-0.
With one away in the third inning, Keen collected the first hit of the day for the Bulldogs when he hit a standup double down the right field line. Josh Smith then hit a line drive to Nicolas at first base for the second out, and Holmes flied out to Richardson in centerfield.
Matt Woods began the fourth inning on the mound for the Bulldogs, replacing starter Mitchell Boggs, who went 3.0 innings and gave up three runs (two earned) on three hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Vanderbilt added three runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-0 lead. Douillard led off the inning with a walk and moved to third when Klosterman hit his 12th double of the season, a shot down the third base line. On a full count, Richardson hit a hard shot to second base; when Marshall Szabo could not make the play, Douillard scored. Jones then hit a single to right on a hit-and-run to score Klosterman and move Richardson to third. Jones stole second, and Nicolas struck out for the first out of the inning. Baxter then hit a RBI single to left center field on a 2-2 count to score Richardson. With one out, Johnny Dobbs entered the game in relief of Woods.
Keen led off the sixth inning with a single to left field, his second hit of the game, but was then picked off at first by Sowers. Smith then struck out, and Holmes popped up to centerfield.
Clint Sammons began the eighth inning with a single down the third base line. His hit bounced off the bag and deflected off the official to VU's Tony Mansolino. Mansolino threw to Nicolas, who tagged Sammons at first as he made the turn to second. Sowers then recorded the putout on Bobby Felmy with an assist from Nicolas, and struck out Adam McDaniel.
Vanderbilt improved to 40-16, while Georgia fell to now 37-19. The Commodores are the third team in the SEC to win 40 games this season. LSU and South Carolina both entered the SEC Tournament with 41 wins.
Sowers improved to 9-5, while Mitchell Boggs (2-3) took the loss.
Vanderbilt's leadoff hitters reached base in six innings. The Commodores totaled 10 hits in the game, led by Richardson, Jones and Douillard with two each.
The Commodore win is the first SEC Tournament game win since 1995 when VU defeated Florida 4-2. Sowers' 10 strikeouts and three hits allowed set a VU school record in an SEC Tournament game.
Vanderbilt, the No. 7 seed, meets Florida Thursday at 5 pm in second-round action. Florida, the No. 6 seed, defeated No. 3 seed LSU 5-4 in ten innings Wednesday.
Score by innings: R H E ---------------------------------------------- Vanderbilt 102 030 000 - 6 10 1 Georgia 000 000 000 - 0 3 1 ---------------------------------------------- Win - J. Sowers 9-5. Loss - Boggs 2-3. Save - None. Start: 2:00 pm Time: 2:20 Attendance: 5366