Vandy tops Arkansas, advances to SEC final

Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 4:23pm
Staff reports

For the fifth time in eight years, Vanderbilt will play for the Southeastern Conference tournament championship.

The second-ranked Commodores edged Arkansas 3-2 on Saturday at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. Vanderbilt (47-9) heads to the title game at 1 p.m. on Sunday (ESPN2) and will play either Florida or Georgia. The Commodores last reached the final day of the tournament two years ago. They have captured the tournament crown twice in school history, most recently in 2007.

Vanderbilt scored all three of their runs in the first two innings. Anthony Gomez’s double in the first brought home SEC Freshman of the Year Tony Kemp, who led off with a walk. Kemp went 0-for-2 as his 15-game hitting streak came to an end.

Center fielder Connor Harrell provided some insurance in the second frame, blasting a two-run home run over the left-field wall.

Arkansas starter Cade Lynch couldn’t get out of the second inning, and the Razorbacks (38-20) turned to Colby Suggs. He pitched 4.2 scoreless innings to keep Arkansas in the game.

Vanderbilt’s pitchers showed strongly. Starter and SEC Pitcher of the Year Grayson Garvin lasted 6.1 innings, allowing two runs on nine hits while striking out three. He was relieved in the seventh by Will Clinard, who struck out the only two batters he faced and left two runners stranded.

Kevin Ziomek, Mark Lamm and closer Navery Moore finished out the last two innings. Combined, the four relief pitchers didn’t allow a baserunner in 2.2 innings. Garvin improved to 12-1 and is the first SEC pitcher to win 10 league games in a single season. Moore picked up his 11th save of the season, matching Ryan Rote (2004) for the single-season school record.

“We've been confident in our pitchers all season long,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said. “It’s a good confidence builder for our kids to grow on with a combination like we had today. I thought Grayson pitched well. He started leaving pitches up late in the game. You can't ask for more from Grayson, giving up only two runs. Credit goes to him getting through that lineup full of righties.”