'Dores Shutout Hogs In Hoover

Vanderbilt had just finished a three game series with Arkansas and now had to play them again to open the SEC Tournament. Sonny Gray picked up the win against the Hogs last Thursday and did so again, less than a week later, in the opening round game. This time Sonny and the Vanderbilt bullpen combined to shutout Arkansas 2-0.

This game proved to be a pitcher's battle in a pitcher's ballpark. With deep fences, most balls do stay in the park. This game was scoreless through five innings and Vanderbilt finally drew first blood in the 6th. Arkansas brought in Sam Murphy to start the 6th in relief of starter Jeremy Heatley. Heatley had gone five innings and allowed no runs on 3 hits, 4 walks, along with 7 strikeouts. Murphy issued a leadoff walk to Aaron Westlake. Curt Casali laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved Westlake to 2nd. Andrew Giobbi then hit a slow grounder to shortstop that allowed Westlake to advance to 3rd with 2 outs. Westlake then scored on a wild pitch by Murphy.

The Commodores struck again in the top of the 8th when Aaron Westlake took a D.J. Baxendale pitch deep over the right center field wall for his fourth homer in the last four games. Gray then opened the 8th inning but gave up a single to right field to open the inning. Vanderbilt then called on the bullpen, bringing in Richie Goodenow(LHP) to face the left handed bat of Andy Wilkins. Goodenow promptly struck out Wilkins and Giobbi threw out the runner from 1st as he was trying to steal 2nd in a strike ‘em out throw ‘em out double play to clear the bases. Chase Reid (RHP) was brought in to face the right handed bat of Monk Kreder, and Kreder grounded out to shortstop to end the 8th inning.

Chase Reid then closed out the 9th to preserve the shutout. Each team finished with just 7 hits but it was Vanderbilt that made the most of it from a slow night at the plate. Westlake was the star at the plate for the Commodores going 2 for 2 with 3 walks. He scored both of the Vanderbilt runs. Sonny Gray gets the win and goes to 9-4 on the year, spreading out 7 hits over 7 innings, with 8 strikeouts, 1 walk and 1 hit-by-pitch. Chase Reid earned the save. Sam Murphy picks up the loss for the Hogs and drops to 0-2 on the year.

Vanderbilt can get a good night's rest now as they advance to the winner's bracket in the double elimination SEC Tournament. They will play the last game on Thursday, facing LSU who advanced by beating Florida earlier in the day. Vanderbilt will send Taylor Hill to the mound to face the Tigers. LSU will counter with Austin Ross (RHP), Jr. with a 4-4 record and ERA of 5.13.

It was truly a day for underdogs as all of the dogs won. This may have occurred as the favored teams all seemed to have saved their ace pitchers. That decision now puts them in the loser's bracket, one loss away from going home. Vanderbilt has done very well in Hoover under Coach Tim Corbin, primarily because they have stayed out of the early loser's bracket. Does Vanderbilt have another SEC championship run within them? This team will not even discuss that as all they are now focused on is the LSU Tigers.


Aaron Westlake:

Sonny Gray:

Derek Johnson:

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