Baseball wins in extra innings, 8-7

Vanderbilt (42-17) rolled into Louisville for an afternoon game against Illinois State (31-23), a team that had just won the Missouri Valley Conference but was making their first NCAA appearance since 1994. It took the Commodores 13 innings to overtake the Red Birds, but Jack Armstrong provided the walk off winning hit that kept the team in the winner's bracket.

The rain threatened through partly cloudy skies but nothing was going to stop this NCAA Regional game, not even nine innings.

Taylor Hill got the start on the mound, but struggled for control for most of his 3.1 innings. He left the game having allowed 6 runs, 4 earned runs, and 4 hits, while securing 2 strikeouts. Grayson Garvin picked up the load and pitched 4.1 innings on a night. He allowed 1 earned run on 4 hits, and 1 walk with 6 strikeouts. Chase Reid then took the mound in the 8th and provided head coach Tim Corbin with 3.0 scoreless innings. Reid struck out 5 while walking only 1 batter. Richie Goodenow made a brief appearance, facing 2 batters allowing a hit and striking out 1. Drew Hayes (6-0) closed the final 2 innings, holding the Red Birds scoreless on 1 hit, 3 walks and no strikeouts, to get the win.

Illinois State had similar troubles with their starting pitcher. Corey Maines lasted only 3 innings and gave up 3 earned runs on 5 hits, and 5 walks. He finished with 2 strikeouts. ISU middle relievers also had tough times. After Maines, Cam Verbake pitched for 1.2 innings, allowing 1 earned run on 1 hit and 2 walks with no strikeouts. He was then relieved by Ryan Copeland who also went a short stint of 1.1 innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 4 hits with 1 strikeout. ISU head coach Mark Kingston then went to his closer, side arm lefty Kenny Long who came into the game with an ERA of 1.37 to start the seventh. Kingston was probably hoping to get 2-3 innings out of him. However, he got 6.1 innings as Long spread out 5 hits and 3 walks, keeping Vanderbilt scoreless for 6 of those innings. The last batter he faced knocked in the only run allowed by Long. That was enough, however, to give him the loss (4-4).

Andrew Giobbi started the action in the 13th, hitting a one out double to left field and after Curt Casali was walked. Corbin then made a rather rare decision when he called on Jack Armstrong to pinch hit for Jordan Wormsley. Corbin said in the post game interview that Jack loves to hit and frequently does 2-2 ½ hrs of batting practice a day. Tonight when he stepped to the plate, the game was on the line in the bottom of the 13th with runners at 1st and 2nd and 1 out. Armstrong responded by hitting a single to right field, scoring Giobbi to win the game.

To go deep into NCAA tournament, most teams need senior leadership and tonight Vanderbilt got it from Brian Harris and Andrew Giobbi. Both had 3 pivotal hits for the Commodores. When asked about whether he felt any pressure to lead this young team, Harris said, "As seniors we preach more about our mental game than we do about play on the field. We want to show a side of us that can calm a kid like Connor Harrell down, a freshman who was in there for the first time." Jason Esposito and Anthony Gomez each had 2 hits on the night. However, the big hits occurred in the 6th, as Aaron Westlake hit his 13th homerun of the year and Joe Loftus followed with his 7th homerun of the year giving Vanderbilt their first lead of the game. ISU catcher, Matt Mirabal immediately answered in the 7th with a homerun to right field, which tied the score. The score remained knotted at 7-7 until the last batter of the 13th.

A 13 inning game was probably not what Corbin had hoped for but he got solid pitching from his relievers, with the first 3 used chewing up 10.2 of the total 13 innings. Corbin confirmed in post-game interview that Sonny Gray would get the start tomorrow. The bats came alive late, with Vanderbilt finishing the night with 15 hits, which included 2 homeruns and 6 doubles. They will need this and more to stay in the winner's bracket after Saturday. Game 2 for Vanderbilt will be at 3 PM CST on Saturday, as they will face Louisville who defeated Saint Louis in the late game, 11-2. Top Stories