"We just need to put this game behind us," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "Our team knows that it's a five-game tournament for us now, but you can't look at that way when you get into tomorrow's game. We have to take it one game at a time. We were in a similar situation in 2007 and I have been apart of team's at Clemson that were in this situation."
Vanderbilt left 12 runners on base and could not take advantage of Mike Minor's second consecutive complete game.
Middle Tennessee (44-16) moves into the winner's bracket and will face the winner of tonight's Louisville-Indiana contest tomorrow at 6 p.m. CT. The loser will face the Commodores tomorrow at 2 p.m. CT in an elimination game.
Stuart Meinhart's grand-slam homer in the first staked the Blue Raiders to a 4-0 lead. The Blue Raiders had success off of VU starter Mike Minor early as Blake McDade and Bryce Brentz had back-to-back one out singles and Rawley Bishop followed with a walk. Meinhart then drove Minor's first pitch offering over the wall in right, his sixth homer of the year, to put MTSU 4-0.
The Commodores got on the board in the fourth scoring two runs on a RBI groundout by Andrew Giobbi and a RBI single by Jason Esposito. Curt Casali was hit by Kenneth Roberts on his first pitch of the inning. Aaron Westlake then laced a double down the right field line to put runners in scoring position for Giobbi. The Maine native grounded to second to score Casali and Esposito singled through the left side to score Westlake.
Taylor Dennis' lead off homer in the seventh extended the MTSU lead to 5-2. The run snapped a streak of five scoreless innings for Minor who kept the Commodores in the game.
Vanderbilt chipped away at the Middle Tennessee lead, scoring two runs in the eighth to make it 5-4. Westlake singled to lead off the inning and ending the day of Roberts. The Blue Raiders brought in closer Coty Woods who gave up a double to Andrew Giobbi to put runners in scoring position. Esposito and pinch hitter Jordan Wormsley brought home both runners on RBI groundouts to cut the lead to one.
Minor (6-5) pitched his second straight complete game and third in the last four outings. He gave up five runs on 10 hits in eight innings with seven strikeouts and four walks.
"I thought I pitched pretty well after the first inning," said Minor. "I gave up that home run in the seventh but I have to give him (Meinhart) credit because he made a good a swing in the zone. We had our chances in the end but we couldn't quite pull it out."
Aaron Westlake led the Dores with three hits, while Joe Loftus added two as the duo combined for five of the team's eight hits on the day. Roberts (11-1) allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings of work with five walks and a strikeout. Woods closed out the game with two innings of two hit baseball, allowing one run with three walks to pick up his 15th save of the year.
Vanderbilt 000 200 020 - 480 Middle Tennessee 400 000 10x - 5(10)0Minor and Giobbi. Roberts, Woods (8) and Giobbi. W- Roberts 11-1, L- Minor 6-5. Sv- Woods (15). HR: MTSU: Meinhart (6), Dennis (4)