NASHVILLE, Tenn. Curt Casali's bases clearing double keyed a six-run fourth inning and broke a 1-1 tie as Vanderbilt went on to win its baseball season opener over Western Kentucky, 10-7, Wednesday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores (2-3) snapped a two-game losing streak, while the Hilltoppers (1-1) lost for the first time this season.
"It feels good to get a win over a very good Western Kentucky team," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "They are the returning Sunbelt champions and they have their whole team back from last season. That is a good hitting team we beat today."
Chase Reid (1-0) gave up three runs on seven hits in a five-inning start with three strikeouts and two walks. He started the game by giving up a leadoff homer to Matt Payton, but settled down and held WKU scoreless for the next three innings.
The Commodores tied the game in the third when Jason Esposito reached on a throwing error by third baseman Wade Gaynor that also allowed Brian Harris to score from third.
Alex Hilliard opened the fourth with a walk and stole second base. Matt Marquis walked and Alex McClure laid down a perfect bunt to reach and load the bases. Harris walked allowing Hilliard to score and give the Commodores their first lead of the game. Steven Liddle lined out to short for the first out and Andrew Giobbi followed with another bases loaded walk to score Marquis. Casali then doubled to dead centerfield and cleared the bases to put VU on top 6-1. He would later score on another error by WKU to make it 7-1.
"I got a fastball down the middle and I was able to get a good piece of the bat on it and I was glad everybody was able to score," said Casali.
RBI singles by Chad Cregar and Wade Gaynor cut the lead to 7-3.
The Commodores got a run back in the fifth when McClure singled with one out and scored on Harris' double to left-center to extend the lead to 8-3.
"We like to think that we are never out of the game and we kept battling back and forth and eventually took the lead," said Brian Harris.
Payton's added a RBI double in the sixth and then VU came back with two runs in the bottom half to make it 10-4. Harris walked with the bases loaded and Matt Marquis scored on a balk.
WKU plated three runs in the seventh to knock reliever Drew Hayes out of the game. Gaynor had a RBI double and Jake Wells and J.B. Paxson added RBI singles in the frame.
Richie Goodenow pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless relief with two strikeouts before giving way to Sonny Gray in the ninth. Gray struck out one and allowed one hit in picking up his first collegiate save.
"Sonny is a real competitor and we felt that he had the mind set tonight to go in there and close the game," added Corbin.
Harris went 2-for-3 with three RBI, with Casali and McClure added two hits of their own.
The Commodores will host Vermont in a three-game series this weekend starting on Friday at 6 p.m. Saturday's game is set for a 2 p.m. start, while the Sunday finale is set for 1 p.m.