Vanderbilt rallies past WKU, 9-6

Nashville, Tenn. - The Vanderbilt Commodores relied on the long ball to score nine unanswered runs in a 9-6 come-from-behind win over Western Kentucky Tuesday at Charles Hawkins Stadium in non-conference action. Senior centerfielder Antoan Richardson hit his first homerun of the season - over the 35-foot left-field wall - for Vanderbilt's first run of the game. Freshman shortstop Dominic de la Osa hit a three-run shot over the left field wall in the fifth to narrow the WKU lead to two, 6-4.

The Commodores tied the game at 6-6 in the sixth inning. With one away, Richardson struck out, but reached first on a passed ball. Richardson stole second and moved to third on an error by pitcher Miles Orman who tried to pickoff Richardson at second. Mike Baxter then singled through the left side scoring Richardson. Baxter stole second and tied the game when Warner Jones drove him in with a single to left field to knot the game at 6-6.

Western Kentucky threatened in the seventh inning, but ended the inning stranding three baserunners. With two away and runners on first and second, Ryan Rote entered the game and hit Matt Ransdell on the first pitch to load the bases. Rote then threw three consecutive strikes to Tim Grogan to retire the side without any Hilltoppers scoring.

Tony Mansolino - who has missed the last seven games due to an abdominal strain - led off the seventh inning with a double to left field. With two away, pinch hitter Brian Hernandez hit the game-winning RBI single scoring Mansolino for a 7-6 score. The Commodores added two more in the eighth inning. Baxter hit an RBI single to right field scoring Richardson who led off the inning with a double. Baxter stole second and with two away, Mansolino drove in Baxter with a single to center field.

The Hilltoppers began the ninth inning with a double by Antone Towns to left center field. Pinch hitter Michael Wilhite drew a walk to place runners and first and second with no outs. Junior right-hander Jensen Lewis came in relief for Rote and gave up a single to Eric Scriven to load the bases. Lewis then struck out Corteze Armstrong (swinging) and Matt Ransdell (looking) and forced Grogarn to fly out to right field to earn his first save of the season.

Western Kentucky scored its first run of the game in the second inning when Casey Hamilton scored on a Corteze Armstrong single to left field. The Hilltoppers added five runs in the third inning off VU starter Matt Buschmann. WKU began the inning with five consecutive hits. Tim Grogan led off the inning with a single to right field, Jordan Newton tripled to right field scoring Grogran. Marcus Ross then doubled to left field scoring Newton. Casey Hamilton singled to the left side scoring Ross. Antone Towns doubled down the left field line moving Hamilton to third and VU made a pitching change - Jeff Sues for the starter Matt Buschmann. Ben Cooper hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield scoring Hamilton and Towns scored when Armstrong singled to left field for the five-run WKU inning.

WKU stranded three more runners in the fourth inning. With bases loaded and one away, sophomore left-hander Stephen Shao relieved Sues and struck out Towns and Cooper to retire the side.

Vanderbilt scored three runs in the fifth inning when de la Osa's three-run home run off starter JC Faircloth scored Baxter and Jones for a two-run deficit, 6-4.

Rote earned the win for the Commodores (1-2), while Miles Orman (0-3) took the loss giving up three runs (one earned) on four hits.

Shao went 2.2 innings of relief giving up just one run and striking out three. Cody Crowell went 0.2 innings giving up two hits. Rote finished the game with one hit in 1.1 innings and four strikeouts, while Lewis pitched the final inning giving up one hit and striking out two.

Faircloth pitched the first 4.1 innings for the Hilltoppers giving up four runs (four earned) on six hits. He struck out two and walked four.

Each team totaled 13 hits in the contest with WKU stranding 15 baserunners. Rucker Taylor, Baxter, Jones, mansolino and Richardson each totaled two hits.

Vanderbilt travels to South Carolina this weekend for a three-game series with the fourth-ranked Gamecocks. Top Stories