March 3, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - No. 2 Vanderbilt had not led all day against Illinois-Chicago but freshman Rhett Wiseman changed that with one swing in the bottom of the 10th inning to lead the Commodores to a 3-1 victory and series sweep at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores (12-1) and Flames (3-6) entered the bottom of the 10th inning tied 1-1 after battling through seven scoreless innings to start the game. Vince Conde opened the frame with a solid single up the middle to give the Dores the winning run on first base. Wiseman was called on to bunt the runner over but after two failed attempts to get the sacrifice bunt down the freshman was told to swing away. Wiseman crushed the next pitch he saw over the right field bleachers to send the Commodores to their 10th straight win and become the first Commodore since Jason Esposito to hit a walk-off home run. Esposito ended the Dores' marathon 17-inning win over Louisville in 2010.
The two teams struggled through the first seven innings of the game with the Flames stranding nine base runners and the Commodores having only four base runners. UIC broke up the scoreless game in the eighth taking advantage of an error on shortstop Tyler Campbell. With two out and a runner on third, Vanderbilt appeared to be out of the inning when Joe Betcher hit a ground ball to Campbell but the freshman's throw sailed high at first base allowing the first run of the game to score. The Vandy offense immediately responded in the bottom half of the eighth to tie the game. Spencer Navin led off by being hit by a pitch and after a pair of walks the bases were loaded for Jack Lupo. The senior was plunked by UIC reliever Alex Posey's second pitch to force in the tying run.
Brian Miller (2-0) earned the win in relief for the Commodores tossing two scoreless innings. The right-hander pitched around a two-out single in the ninth and hit the lead off man in the 10th. Starter Philip Pfeifer turned in six more scoreless innings in a no decision. Pfeifer scattered three hits, walked four but struck out seven in lowering his ERA to a team-best 0.45. The lefty has now allowed only one earned run in his first 20 innings of the season. For the weekend, Vanderbilt's pitchers combined to allow four runs, one earned, on 14 hits with 35 strikeouts in 28 innings.
Posey (0-1) took the loss for the Flames after allowing Wiseman's walk-off home run. UIC starter Joe Begel kept the Commodores off balance all day, tossing 7.1 solid innings. Begel allowed one run on three hits with six strikeouts.
Vanderbilt's 10-game winning streak is the team's longest since 2011 when the Dores won 11 straight from March 26-April 12. The victory also secured the team's third straight series victory and second straight series sweep. The Commodores did not win their 12th game last season until April 3 with a win over UT-Martin.
Vanderbilt returns to action on Tuesday afternoon at Hawkins Field when Eastern Illinois visits at 4 p.m.