Two days from the start of its most crucial baseball series of the season, Vanderbilt cruised past Tennessee Tech 7-2 Wednesday at Hawkins Field.
The 18th-ranked Commodores scored all of their runs with two outs in the fifth inning in winning their fifth straight game and 17th in the past 20.
At 14-9 in Southeastern Conference play, Vanderbilt sits in second place in the Eastern Division, three games behind 11th-ranked Georgia. The two teams will meet in a three-game series this weekend.
Although Wednesday’s win pushed VU’s record this season to 13-0 against in-state opponents, maintaining momentum was considered more important.
“We just want to do as well as we possibly can and get on some type of run,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “We didn’t want anything to slow us down. We didn’t want to be playing poor baseball going into Georgia.”
Taylor Hill earned the win Wednesday for the Commodores, striking out six and allowing one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. Adam Liberatore [1-1] took the loss for Tennessee Tech [31-17-1].
Liberatore handcuffed Vanderbilt until the fifth inning, when Ryan Flaherty opened VU’s rally with a two-run single, scoring Dominic de la Osa and Pedro Alvarez.
Shea Robin then added a two-run double down the left-field line, plating Flaherty and Alex Feinberg, who walked. Run-scoring singles by Andrew Giobbi and Steven Liddle closed out the scoring.
“Flash’s [Flaherty] hit kind of broke the game open,” Corbin said. “Sometimes that all it takes, one big inning, to put the game away.”
Vanderbilt took pride in scoring each run with two outs.
“That’s definitely something coach Corbin puts a lot of emphasis on, two-out RBIs,” Flaherty said. “If you can do that, it’s the sign of a good team. Fortunately, tonight we got some.”
The Golden Eagles picked up single runs in the seventh and ninth innings, but managed only five hits on the night.
Immediately after the game, Vanderbilt’s thoughts turned to Georgia. The Commodores, defending SEC champions, still hope to retain their crown.
“Considering the circumstances, this is obviously a big weekend,” VU center fielder David Macias said. “We’re geared up for Friday. It’s crunch time in the SEC and they’re the No. 1 team.”
Tickets still available
Tickets for this weekend’s Vanderbilt-Georgia series are still available. For more information, call 322-GOLD or go to vucommodores.com.
SEC Baseball Standings
Georgia 17-6-1, 31-16-1
Vanderbilt 14-9, 36-13
Florida 13-11, 29-18
S.Carolina 13-11, 34-15
Kentucky 11-13, 35-14
Tennessee 11-13, 25-24
LSU 12-11-1, 32-16-1
Alabama 12-12, 28-22
Ole Miss 12-12, 31-19
Arkansas 10-13, 28-20
Auburn 10-14, 26-23
Miss. State 7-17, 20-29
Series this weekend
Georgia at Vanderbilt
Florida at Alabama
S.Carolina at Arkansas
Auburn at Ole Miss
Kentucky at Tennessee
Miss. State at LSU
*Top eight teams based on winning percentage advance to SEC Tournament, May 21. Six regular-season games remain for each team.
Vanderbilt vs. Georgia
Friday, 6 p.m. [CSS]
Saturday, 2 p.m.
Sunday, 1 p.m.