Vandy loses heartbreaker to LSU, 16-15

The Vanderbilt Commodore baseball team got involved in a slugfest at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge on Friday. The game took 4 hours and 44 minutes to complete, a game with 33 hits and 31 runs.

It was akin to a heavyweight fight that goes the distance, with LSU entering the game at #15 and Vanderbilt at #18. It was LSU that got the last punch on Friday though as they escaped with a 10th inning walk-off hit that sealed the game, 16-15. This was the third of the last four SEC games in which Vanderbilt has lost on a walk-off hit.

Early, Vanderbilt appeared to be in total control as they scored 6 runs in the 1st three innings. LSU did not score until the 3rd, when they plated 4 runs. Sonny Gray battled back with the bases loaded to get 2 big outs as Austin Nola lined out to Esposito at 3rd and Blake Dean struck out. But with 2 outs, LSU struck when Micah Gibbs singled to left to score 2 runs. Alex Edward then added an RBI single, and Leon Landry hit an infield single to reload the bases. Matt Gaudet then received a costly free pass that scored LSU's 4th run.

The Commodores answered quickly with 5 runs in the 4th. Anthony Gomez started the inning with a walk and was followed by Jason Esposito who singled and set up runners at 1st and 2nd with no outs. Gomez and Esposito advanced a base on an Aaron Westlake grounder to 3rd. Andrew Giobbi then followed a Curt Casali strikeout with a double down the left field line that scored 2. Connor Harrell walked and then Joe Loftus launched a rocket over the right centerfield wall to plate 3 more VU runs. This was the 6th homerun for Loftus on the year.

LSU knocked Sonny Gray out of the game in the 4th and came roaring back with 5 more runs to tighten the score to 11-9. This was Gray's shortest stint of the year as he allowed 7 hits, 7 runs and had 4 walks and 3 strikeouts over 3 innings. Blake Dean had a 2 run single, Gibbs smacked a 2 run double, and Gaudet hit an RBI single to account for the five runs scored. One truly needed a computer and calculator to keep tabs on this game.

The 5th inning saw another scoring blast. Vanderbilt scored 3 runs on the back of Curt Casali who belted his 6th homerun of the year, a 3 run blast over the right centerfield wall. Casali has now hit 3 homers in his last 5 games. LSU then roared back with 4 runs in the bottom of the 5th to tighten the score to 14-13. Austin Nola hit a 2 run homer and LSU scored 2 more runs on a fielding error by Brian Harris, his second error of the game.

The game then got rather quiet until the bottom of the 7th when Micah Gibbs hit a solo homer to tie the score at 14-14. LSU's Blake Dean then gave LSU their first lead in the 8th with an RBI single that gave LSU the lead at 15-14. Vandy was then down to their very last out in the 9th when Gomez hit his 1st collegiate homer, taking Matty Ott deep to right field.

Russell Brewer threw 2 and 2/3 innings of stellar baseball in closing the game. His last 1/3 inning was costly though as Brewer hit Blake Dean with a pitch with 2 outs. Then with a full count and 2 outs and Dean moving on the pitch, Micah Gibbs lined it down the left field line for a double. Vanderbilt had a defense shift to right on the play and Dean scored the winning run. Ott thus blew the save but then got the win and Brewer picked up the loss.

Anthony Gomez and Joe Loftus were the hitting stars for Vanderbilt. Gomez had his second straight game with 4 hits and is making a real run to secure the SEC batting title as a freshman. Joe Loftus was only a single away from securing an elusive cycle at the plate. Vanderbilt may finally be seeing the Loftus bat that broke the high school home run record in MN, the one previously held by Joe Mauer.

Vanderbilt will not lose many games when they score 14 runs on 14 hits. But when you play the 15th ranked team in the US you cannot have 2 errors and give up 19 hits and 16 runs. Vanderbilt now holds the SEC's 8th best record with only the top 8 teams making the SEC Tournament. If Vandy is going to make a tournament run in 2010, the time is now. An 8 seed in the tournament will stack the deck against this team and they must attempt to move up in the SEC rankings over the next 8 SEC games. Top Stories