March 6, 2009
NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- Vanderbilt used the power pitching of Caleb Cotham and Drew Hayes along with the power hitting of Curt Casali and Joe Loftus to beat UIC 6-1 in baseball action Friday evening at Hawkins Field.
Cotham (3-0) allowed an unearned run on four hits with eight strikeouts and three walks in six innings of work. Drew Hayes then closed out the game with three scoreless innings of relief with three strikeouts to pick his first save of the year.
“Today was a good outing for Caleb,” said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. “I thought in the fifth and sixth he expended too much energy, but he did a good job of getting through those innings. It’s good to see Drew do well the last two outings. He threw the ball well tonight.”
The Commodores scored an unearned run in the second when Aaron Westlake reached on an error, moved to third on a double by Riley Reynolds and then came home on Alex Hilliard’s grounder to short.
VU added its next four runs courtesy of a pair of two-run homers by Curt Casali, in the third, and Joe Loftus, in the fourth, to extend the lead to 5-0. It was Casali’s second homer in as many days and fourth of the year, while it was Loftus’ first collegiate round-tripper.
“The separator of today’s game were the home runs,” said Corbin. “They kind of gave us some breathing room.”
UIC got on the board in the sixth on a RBI single by third baseman Jason Ganek. Steve McGuiggan walked to lead off the inning but Jake Carr flew out to right and Brett Schaefer struck out for two quick outs in the stanza. McGuiggan then stole second and advanced to third when Aaron Westlake’s throw to second on the steal attempt was over shortstop Brian Harris’ head. Ganek then singled to shallow right to score him to make it 5-1.
VU added another run in the bottom of the eighth to push the lead back to five at 6-1. Jason Esposito led off the inning with a bunt that wasn’t fielded cleanly by pitcher Michael Heesch. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Riley Reynolds then stole third base. UIC’s catcher tried to throw him out at third on the steal, but the throw was low and went into left field allowing Esposito to score.
Casali and Esposito both had two hits to lead the Commodores, while Jason Ganek led the Flames with three of the team’s five hits on the day.
“You look at our losses, they are all by one run and that’s frustrating and it gives us added motivation to come back out and get a win,” said Casali when asked about the team rebounding from last night’s 3-2 loss to UIC. “We are glad we got back on track and got some more hits and will focus on that.”
The Commodores and Flames will play the third game of the four-game series on Saturday at 2 p.m. Senior right-hander Nick Christiani (1-0, 3.00 ERA) will take the hill for VU, while UIC will counter with senior righty Mike Kool (0-2, 10.12 ERA).
UIC 000 001 000 -1 5 6
Vanderbilt 012 200 01x -6 8 2
Kovacevich, Heesch (8) and Orf. Cotham, Hayes (7) and Westlake. W- Cotham 3-0, L- Kovacevich 0-3. Sv- Hayes (1). HR: VU: Casali (4), Loftus (1)