Feb. 25, 2014
No. 8 Vanderbilt could not dig out of an early three-run hole in losing the team's first game of the year 3-2 to Western Kentucky Tuesday night at Hawkins Field.
The Hilltoppers (6-2) jumped on the Commodores (7-1) and starter Walker Buehler in the second inning for one run on three hits. The Toppers tacked on another run in the third when a leadoff walk came around to score on a Scott Wilcox single. WKU's leadoff hitter again reached in the fifth and caused trouble for Buehler with Wilcox again providing the big hit for the Hilltoppers, this time with a double.
Down three runs in the bottom of the sixth the Vanderbilt offense showed signs of life after going hitless through the first four frames. Dansby Swanson singled up the middle to extend his hitting streak to eight games and Xavier Turner was hit by a pitch with two outs to give the Dores their first man in scoring position. A balk by Western Kentucky starter Josh Bartley put Swanson and Turner at third and second for Zander Wiel. The sophomore answered with a two-run double off the left field wall to trim the WKU lead to one run.
The Commodores again looked to have something going in the seventh when Vince Conde worked a leadoff walk but freshman Nolan Rogers bunted into a double play for two quick outs. The Hilltoppers' bullpen gave VU another chance, issuing three straight walks to load the bases before getting freshman Bryan Reynolds to foul out and end the threat.
Vanderbilt threatened for the final time in the eighth inning when Turner and Conde each walked to put the tying run in scoring position but freshman Ro Coleman struck out to end the inning and the Commodores' last scoring chance.
Buehler was pinned with the loss for the Dores despite a quality start, giving up three runs on nine hits over six-plus innings. Freshman Hayden Stone worked two perfect innings of relief and Brian Miller worked out of a jam in the ninth to keep the Commodores in the game. Bartley earned the win for WKU allowing two runs on three hits with four strikeouts. Ian Thompkins picked up his fourth save of the year with 1.1 innings of work.
The Vandy offense was held to a season-low three hits and matched a season-low with two runs despite drawing a season-high seven walks. The three runs allowed by the VU pitching staff also set a season-high.
The Commodores host Evansville tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. Senior T.J. Pecoraro gets the ball for the Dores against Purple Aces right-hander Matt Rodgers.