Strong seventh inning propels VU past Tech on Tuesday evening
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The second day of spring yielded superb weather for baseball, as the Golden Eagles visited the Commodores of Vanderbilt University for a non-conference night game in Nashville on Tuesday.
But the perfect start to the game between Tech and VU ended perfectly only for the no. 2 ranked Commodores, who hung an 11-2 loss on the Golden Eagles to improve to a 20-2 overall record on their season, while TTU fell to a record of 8-13 on the year.
Despite giving up a two-run lead on two hits to Vanderbilt in the bottom of the first, the Golden Eagles came back to tie the game on a two-shot homer by Evan Frazier in the top of the second, following a base hit by Ben Burgess.
Both Frazier and Burgess, along with second baseman Frankie Beech, went 1-for-3 on the day, with Frazier's long ball yielding both of Tech's runs on the evening.
Freshman southpaw Jake McWhirter, who started the game on the hill for Tech, then held the Commodores scoreless in the third before allowing two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on two more hits – a single by VU's Mike Yastrzemski to set Connor Harrell up for a home run of his own – stretching the lead to 4-2 in favor of Vanderbilt.
The 4-2 score would stand for the next two and a half innings, as McWhirter pitched through the fifth inning and relinquished the mound to fellow freshman Garret Baugh, who notched a strikeout and induced a lineout a ground out to finish off the sixth.
Unfortunately, the Commodores busted the seams of the contest in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings though, with seven insurance runs on six total hits. Baugh struck out lead off hitter Spencer Navin to start the bottom of the seventh frame, but walked Tony Kemp and gave up a base hit to Anthony Gomez immediately after to put runners on the corners.
An RBI double by Aaron Westlake down the right field line brought Cullen Park in relief for the Golden Eagles with two runners in scoring position for Jason Esposito, whose 2-1 count base hit scored them both, setting the score at 7-2 to Vanderbilt. Esposito was then caught stealing for out no. 2 of the inning, but Park walked two and surrendered another single to Harrel for the fourth run of the inning, giving the Commodores an 8-2 lead headed into the eighth.
Tech left two men on base in the top of the eighth after Austin Wulf reached on a fielder's choice and Zephan Guyear notched a base hit and was thus unable to respond to Vanderbilt's play in the previous inning. The Commodores, meanwhile, continued with the hot bats, notching three more runs for a final score of 11-2 on two hits by Joel McKeithan and Josh Lee off of Park's reliever Nick Price in the bottom of the eighth.
Harrell led the scoring for Vanderbilt with a 2-for-5, three RBI performance, while Gomez, Westlake and Yastrzemski each notched two hits apiece as well.
McWhirter struck out three on the day in 22 batters face, allowing four runs on five hits in five innings of work. He was tagged with the loss for Tech, falling to 0-2 on the season, while Vanderbilt's T.J. Pecoraro improved to 3-0 after taking the win in two innings of work.
Tech will continue their five-game road stint with a trip to SIU Edwardsville this weekend, with game one of the three-game series set to begin on Friday at 6 p.m.