Nashville, Tenn, -
The second-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores used the team's first grand slam of the year and strong pitching to beat Illinois-Chicago 5-1 Friday night at Hawkins Field.
Vanderbilt starter Sonny Gray turned in his third straight dominant outing to earn his fourth win of the year. The junior right-hander struck out nine batters over seven scoreless innings, scattering two hits and walking three in his fourth start. Gray struck out five of the first 10 hitters he faced en route to running his season total to 36. Over his last three starts he has allowed two runs on eight hits with 30 strikeouts across 22 innings.
UIC starter Matt Salemi kept the Commodores' offense in check until the sixth inning when a pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases for Curt Casali. The senior catcher then launched his first home run of the year over the scoreboard in left field for a 4-0 VU lead. The grand slam was the first of the year for the Dores. Casali later scored the team's fifth run in the eighth inning on a passed ball. Riley Reynolds added two hits in the win and has five hits over his last two games. Matt Serna had two of the Flames' four hits with Alex De LaRosa driving in the team's lone run on a two-out flare to left field in the ninth inning.
Salemi took the loss for UIC giving up four runs on six hits over six innings. Corey Williams pitched the final two innings for Vandy allowing one run on two hits.
The Commodores host the Flames tomorrow afternoon at Hawkins Field with first pitch slated for 2 p.m. Grayson Garvin gets the nod for the home team against right-hander Matt Heaslip.