NASHVILLE -- No. 2 Vanderbilt scraped together a pair of late runs to top visiting Illinois-Chicago 5-3 on another frigid Saturday at Hawkins Field.
The game opened with the temperature hovering in the low 30s and snowflakes fluttering in the sky. While the temperature was cold, the Commodores (11-1) started out anything but, scoring two runs in the first inning. Leadoff man Tony Kemp walked and Jack Lupo singled to put runners on the corners for Conrad Gregor. The Dores' first baseman lifted a fly ball into left field for a sacrifice fly and the first run of the game. Connor Harrell followed to make it 2-0 with his team-best fifth double of the year to score Lupo.
Vanderbilt starter Tyler Beede made those two runs stand up until the Dores' defense turned sloppy in the sixth when a pair of errors led to two unearned runs and put the Flames (3-5) in the lead for the first time this weekend. Beede, however, rebounded to limit the damage and pitch into the seventh inning when his team reclaimed the lead. VU immediately answered in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game with Chris Harvey's RBI-triple down the right field line. The Flames handed the lead back to the home team in the seventh when a wild pitch bounced away from UIC catcher Alex Jurich and allowed Conrad Gregor to score from third. Spencer Navin added an insurance run in the eighth with a RBI-single to center field.
Beede (3-0) turned in another solid outing to pick up the win striking out eight. The sophomore scattered five hits and allowed three runs, one earned, with three walks. Beede cruised through the first three innings allowing only a two-out double in the first with five strikeouts. The Flames' first run of the series came in the fourth when Alex De LaRosa tripled to lead off the inning and scored on Tyler Detmer's single. UIC starter Jack Andersen (0-3) took the loss allowing four runs on five hits in 5.1 innings. The freshman settled in after a rough first inning retiring 12 straight Commodores before Vince Conde's single in the fifth.
Harrell pushed his hitting streak to 10 games for the Dores going 1-for-3 with one RBI and now has 23 RBI for the year. Conde notched his team-best fifth two-hit game of the seaon and Harvey's triple was his fourth extra-base hit this season accounting for all four of his hits. Detmer paced the Flames with three hits and one RBI.
The victory is the ninth straight for the Commodores and clinches the team's third straight series. Vanderbilt's starting pitchers are now a combined 9-1 with 86 strikeouts in 69 innings with a 1.83 ERA.
The Dores and Flames wrap up the series tomorrow at noon at Hawkins Field. Reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week Philip Pfeifer (2-0) gets the ball for the home team against right-hander Joey Begel (1-1) for UIC.