Commodores rally with three in the ninth, take series at Kentucky

Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 6:42pm
Staff reports

The Vanderbilt baseball team captured its third straight series in dramatic fashion.

The Commodores scored four runs in the last three innings, including three in the ninth, and pulled away from host Kentucky for a 6-3 victory on Sunday afternoon.

No. 2 Vanderbilt (40-6, 19-5 Southeastern Conference) has won eight of its last nine games. The Commodores have posted at least 40 wins in four of the last five years.

Tied in the top of the ninth, Vanderbilt put together a string of two-out hits. Anthony Gomez and Aaron Westlake started the rally with consecutive singles, which put runners on the corner. That brought up third baseman Jason Esposito, who extended his hitting streak to 27 games and knocked in the go-ahead run with a single to right field. Mike Yastrzemski and Curt Casali followed with RBI singles.

Closer Navery Moore (4-1), who came in for the last out of the eighth inning, retired the first two batters of the ninth inning and picked up the win. Corey Williams earned his second save, getting the last out of the game.

Starter Taylor Hill went six innings, allowing three runs on four hits and striking out six.

The Commodores’ six-game winning streak was snapped on Friday night. Kentucky (21-27, 5-19), the last-place team in the SEC, held Vanderbilt scoreless — the first time all season the Commodores have been shut out.

The Wildcats’ Alex Meyer, who leads the league with 96 strikeouts, went all nine innings. He allowed just five hits and struck out five. Vanderbilt couldn’t benefit from a solid outing from ace Sonny Gray (9-3), who allowed just two runs on four hits and struck out nine.

The Commodores bounced back on Saturday. They scored six runs in the first inning, never looking back as Grayson Garvin (10-1) gave up just one run on six hits in eight innings. Leadoff hitter Tony Kemp led Vanderbilt with four hits and two RBIs. Designated hitter Conrad Gregor added three hits, including a solo home run, to drive in four runs.

Vanderbilt travels to Louisville for a 5 p.m. contest on Tuesday. The Commodores then host No. 4 Florida for a three-game series, which begins Friday.