NASHVILLE -- It took 12 innings and nearly four hours but No. 3 Vanderbilt finally edged visiting Tennessee 4-3 on Friday night to win the series opener at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores (23-4, 6-1) wasted opportunities in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings before finally coming up with the big hit in the 12th. Mike Yastrzemski led off the final frame by getting hit by a pitch. Vince Conde then executed a perfect hit-and-run, singling up the middle to put runners on the corners. Tennessee (13-11, 3-4) issued an intentional walk to John Norwood to load the bases and set up a force play at any base. Spencer Navin had been part of Vandy's frustration earlier in the game, striking out with runners on second and third in the 10th inning. But the junior came through in the 12th, lifting a fly ball to right field that landed over the right fielder's head for a game-winning single.
Brian Miller entered the game in the top of the eighth after the Dores tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the seventh on back-to-back RBI-singles from Tony Kemp and Xavier Turner. Miller went to work on the Vols' lineup striking out four of the first six batters he faced. The right-hander worked out of a jam with a little help in the 10th when Tennessee's Will Maddox slid by second base and was tagged out for the second out. The Volunteers would have had runners on second and third with one out but instead Jeff Moberg's fly out to left ended the inning and the threat. Miller again worked out of a tight spot in the top of the 12th. After getting two quick outs, Miller hit relief pitcher Trevor Charpie, who was batting for the first time in his career. Consecutive singles from A.J. Simcox and Maddox loaded the bases but Miller again rose to the occasion striking out Moberg to end the inning.
Kemp and Conde led the way for the Dores in the win picking up two hits apiece as the team walked nine times on the night, collecting eight hits. Maddox paced Tennessee's 11-hit attack with three singles.
Miller (4-0) earned the win in a career-best five innings of relief work allowing no runs. The sophomore scattered five hits and fanned a career-high six to earn his fourth win of the year. VU starter Kevin Ziomek struck out 10 and allowed three runs on six hits over seven innings in a no decision. Ziomek's 10-strikeout game is his fourth game this season with at least 10 strikeouts. Charpie took the loss for Tennessee allowing the winning run in the 12th inning. Starter Zack Godley was solid for the Volunteers tossing seven innings and giving up three runs on five hits with eight strikeouts.
Vanderbilt's 6-1 start in Southeastern Conference play is the best since 2006 when the Commodores started 6-1 as well. The 12-inning affair is the longest game of the season for VU and the longest since a 12-inning win at Mississippi State last season.
The Commodores and Volunteers play tomorrow night with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. on CSS. Sophomore Tyler Beede (6-0) gets the ball for the home team against Tennessee's right-hander Nick Williams (1-0).