March 15, 2013
Auburn, Ala. -
No. 2 Vanderbilt flexed its muscles early and rode starter Kevin Ziomek to a 5-2 Southeastern Conference opening victory at Auburn on Friday night.
The Commodores (17-2, 1-0) jumped on the Tigers (13-4, 0-1) early with a two-out, two-run rally in the first. Conrad Gregor started the rally with his first home run of the season crushing a towering solo home run over the bullpen in right field. Connor Harrell worked a walk and Mike Yastrzemski made it 2-0 with a double into the left-center field gap. The Dores again played long ball in the third inning when Harrell smashed his team-best fifth home run off the batter's eye in center field for a three-run shot and five-run Vandy lead. Harrell now has 30 RBI on the season.
While his teammates staked him to an early lead, starter Kevin Ziomek was quietly pitching a gem. The left-hander struck out two to end the first inning and set up a streak of 16 straight retired Tigers to open the game. Ziomek (5-0) carried his no hitter into the seventh inning before Ryan Tella singled into center field to break up the bid. Ziomek, however, bounced back to get the next two batters and end the frame. Auburn finally reached the junior for a run on two hits in the eighth before knocking him out of the game in the ninth with two runners on and one out. Brian Miller came in from the bullpen and recorded the final two outs to notch his fifth save.
"Honestly, I didn't think about it too much," Ziomek said of his no-hit bid. "It's kind of hard when you're going into the dugout and no one is talking to you but when you're out there you just lock yourself in mentally and it's just you and the hitter."
Ziomek finished the night allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits over 8.1 innings with five strikeouts. Over his last three starts Ziomek has allowed three runs, two earned, on eighth hits with 33 strikeouts across 26.1 innings. Auburn starter Daniel Koger (0-1) was pinned with the loss giving up five runs on five hits in six innings of work.
Gregor and Harrell each had two runs scored on the night as Gregor went 2-for-4 for his second multi-hit game of the season. Jordan Ebert drove in the Tigers' first run of the game as five different Tigers had one hit each.
The Commodores and Tigers tangle tomorrow afternoon with first pitch set for 2:15 p.m. on SportSouth. Right-hander Tyler Beede (4-0) gets the ball for the Dores against Auburn lefty Michael O'Neal (4-0).