March 5, 2014
No. 8 Vanderbilt rallied for four runs over the first two innings and held off Middle Tennessee State at Reese Smith Field to win 4-3 on Wednesday night.
The Commodores (12-2) took advantage of early opportunities to score all the runs they needed in the first two innings. The game opened up with Blue Raiders' (4-7) starter Nathan Foriest issuing a walk to leadoff hitter Dansby Swanson followed by hitting back-to-back batters to load the bases for Xavier Turner. The junior answered the call with a single through the right side to put Vandy on top. Rhett Wiseman appeared to have put multiple runs on the board with a smash deep into the right-center field gap but MTSU center fielder Ryan Stephens tracked it down on the warning track to allow only one run to score on the sacrifice fly.
The Dores added two more runs in the second that proved to be the difference. Freshman Nolan Rogers ignited the two-out rally with a single and swiped second base. Swanson walked for the second time in the game to put two on for freshman Bryan Reynolds. The Brentwood, Tenn. native laced a double down the right field line scoring both runs and give the Vandy pitching staff the only cushion it needed.
Freshman John Kilichowski and Carson Fulmer combined for six scoreless innings that sealed the victory. Kilichowski entered in the fourth inning in relief of starter T.J. Pecoraro and immediately found himself in trouble after a leadoff single and sacrifice bunt put the tying run on second base. But the lanky lefty responded by getting the next two batters looking at strike three to end the threat. The Blue Raiders threatened again in the fifth putting a runner on third with two outs but Kilichowski forced Jake Ingold to foul out to first to end the inning.
Fulmer ended all MTSU threats when he took over in the seventh. The sophomore needed just 27 pitches to record the final nine outs and record his team-best fourth save of the year.
Pecoraro earned the win, his first of the season, with three innings of work. The senior allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits with two strikeouts. Foriest took the loss after giving up four runs on three hits in his two frames.
Swanson and Turner combined for four of the Commodores' eight hits in the game with Reynolds driving in two of the team's four runs. Jared Allen led MTSU with three hits and two RBI.
Vanderbilt returns home to host Winthrop in the final non-conference weekend series beginning Friday. First pitch at Hawkins Field is set for 4 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.