FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. --- Junior left-hander Mike Minor struck out 11 and limited No. 1 Arkansas to just four hits in eight innings of work to lead Vanderbilt to a 9-0 win over the Razorbacks Friday night at Baum Stadium.
The Commodores won their third straight Southeastern Conference game to improve to 20-13 and 6-7 in league play. Arkansas dropped a Friday night league game for the first time this season to fall to 24-7 overall and 10-3 in the SEC. It was also the first time the Razorbacks have been shutout since Ole Miss blanked them 5-0 on May 19, 2007.
Minor (3-3) excelled on the mound as he allowed just four singles, just one through six, and tied a season-high 11 strikeouts in eight innings of work. Taylor Hill retired the side in the ninth to secure the Dores first shutout in conference action this year and the first since a 16-0 win over Mississippi State last year.
"I felt pretty good early," said Minor. "I love this atmosphere and coming out and competing against the No. 1 team in the country. This win was huge and it helps boost our confidence."
It was the second combined shutout of Minor's VU career, the first coming in his third collegiate appearance against Austin Peay on Feb. 27, 2007. He held the Governors to just three hits with eight strikeouts and a walk in that outing.
"Mike pitched very well tonight," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "He attacked the Arkansas hitters and had command of four pitches. We needed a performance like that, especially against a team like this."
Vanderbilt led 2-0 before blowing the game open with five runs in the fourth to take a commanding 7-0 lead. Jason Esposito led off with a walk and stole second. Joe Loftus singled to center to move Esposito to third. Esposito would score on a throwing error by catcher Ryan Cisterna who tried to pick him off at third. Riley Reynolds added a RBI single and Andrew Giobbi belted a two-run double to right center to push the lead to 6-0. Steven Liddle closed out the inning with a RBI single to right.
VU added a run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly RBI and another in the eighth to close out the game scoring.
Curt Casali led VU with a 3-for-3 night at the plate, while Liddle and Loftus added two hits each.
"Arkansas has gotten off to a great start this season, so we were excited to get out and play them," said Casali. "We were coming off a big series win over Florida last weekend and our bats showed up tonight."
The Commodores got on the board first, scoring a run in the second on a RBI single by Brian Harris. Esposito led off with a single and advanced to second on a single by Loftus. Harris then singled to left on a hit and run to plate Esposito and move Loftus to third. VU squandered an opportunity to add more as Harris was picked off at first and after a walk to Jonathan White, Reynolds grounded into a double play to end the inning.
VU added another run in the third when Liddle doubled to left-center and scored on a RBI single by Casali to make it 2-0.
Dallas Keuchel (5-1) gave up seven runs on 10 hits in 3.1 innings with two strikeouts and two walks in his first loss of the year.
The Commodores and Razorbacks will play the second game of the three game series Saturday afternoon at 3:05 p.m. Right-hander Caleb Cotham (4-3, 3.92 ERA) will take the hill for VU, while Arkansas will counter with righty T.J. Forrest (2-2, 4.32 ERA).
Minor, Hill (9) and Giobbi. Keuchel, Kowalchuk (4), Wehrle (8) and Cisterna. W- Minor 3-3, L- Keuchel 5-1. Sv- None. HR: None
Inning by inning
VU 1st: Curt Casali gets a hit and gets to second but Aaron Westlake strikes out to end the inning.
ARK 1st: Mike Minor strikes out two but walks one.
ARK 2nd: Minor strikes out first two batters. Minor "hits" third batter in the foot and then really hits fourth batter. Fly to center ends inning.
ARK 3rd: Fly out, strike out, ground out. Having Andrew Giobbi back appears to really helps Minor.
VU 4th: Jason Esposito walked. Esposito steals. Loftus singles. Harris walks. Harris out in interference call at home plate. White reaches on fielders choice. Reynolds base hit. Esposito and Loftus scores. Giobbi double scores Harris and White. Liddle single scores Giobbi. Arky changes pitcher. Pitch hits Casali. Westlake strikes out. Esposito fouls out behind home plate.
ARK 4th: Base hit. Strike out. Wild pitch advances runner. Walks a batter. Double play ends the inning.
VU 5th: Loftus grounds out. Harris strikes out. White infield fly ends inning.
ARK 5th: Fly out to right. Great play by Harris to throw out a would be hitter. Easy grounder ends inning.
VU 6th: Reynolds strikes out. Giobbi flies out to center. Liddle walks. Liddle advances on a passed ball. Casali hit by pitch. Westlake grounds out.
ARK 6th: Strike out "passed ball" (missed call) gets the hogs a guy on first. Runner out at second on fielder's choice, batter safe at first. Fly out to center. Ground ball to Minor ends inning. Minor has 7 strikeouts so far.
VU 7th: Esposito walks then steals second. Loftus strikes out. Esposito steals third. Harris fly ball scores Esposito. Error advances Harris to second. White grounds out. Reynolds srikes out.
ARK 7th: Minor still pitching. Strike out. Strike out. Base hit. Base hit. Line out to first ends the inning.
VU 8th: Giobbi walks. Liddle flies out to center. Giobbi steals second. Casali single. Westlake single. Giobbi scores. Esposito hits into double play.
ARK 8th: Minor still pitching. Strike out. Strike out (11th). Base hit. Fly ball to center ends inning.
VU 9th: Loftus strikes out. Harris flies out. White strikes out.
ARK 9th: Taylor Hill pitching. Ground out. Ground out. Ground ball to pitcher ends game!! Vanderbilt improves to 20-13, (6-7 SEC)
and Arkansas falls to 24-7, (10-3 SEC). Vanderbilt and Arkansas meet for game two of the series at 3:05 p.m. on Saturday (TV: FSN).
Score by Innings R H E ------------------------------------------- Vanderbilt........... 011 500 110 - 9 11 1 Arkansas............. 000 000 000 - 0 4 4 -------------------------------------------