FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. --- Junior left-hander Mike Minor struck out 11 and limited No. 1 Arkansas to just four hits in eight innings of work to lead Vanderbilt to a 9-0 win over the Razorbacks Friday night at Baum Stadium.
The Commodores won their third straight Southeastern Conference game to improve to 20-13 and 6-7 in league play. Arkansas dropped a Friday night league game for the first time this season to fall to 24-7 overall and 10-3 in the SEC. It was also the first time the Razorbacks have been shutout since Ole Miss blanked them 5-0 on May 19, 2007.
Minor (3-3) excelled on the mound as he allowed just four singles, just one through six, and tied a season-high 11 strikeouts in eight innings of work. Taylor Hill retired the side in the ninth to secure the Dores first shutout in conference action this year and the first since a 16-0 win over Mississippi State last year.
"I felt pretty good early," said Minor. "I love this atmosphere and coming out and competing against the No. 1 team in the country. This win was huge and it helps boost our confidence."
It was the second combined shutout of Minor's VU career, the first coming in his third collegiate appearance against Austin Peay on Feb. 27, 2007. He held the Governors to just three hits with eight strikeouts and a walk in that outing.
"Mike pitched very well tonight," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "He attacked the Arkansas hitters and had command of four pitches. We needed a performance like that, especially against a team like this."
Vanderbilt led 2-0 before blowing the game open with five runs in the fourth to take a commanding 7-0 lead. Jason Esposito led off with a walk and stole second. Joe Loftus singled to center to move Esposito to third. Esposito would score on a throwing error by catcher Ryan Cisterna who tried to pick him off at third. Riley Reynolds added a RBI single and Andrew Giobbi belted a two-run double to right center to push the lead to 6-0. Steven Liddle closed out the inning with a RBI single to right.
VU added a run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly RBI and another in the eighth to close out the game scoring.
Curt Casali led VU with a 3-for-3 night at the plate, while Liddle and Loftus added two hits each.
"Arkansas has gotten off to a great start this season, so we were excited to get out and play them," said Casali. "We were coming off a big series win over Florida last weekend and our bats showed up tonight."
The Commodores got on the board first, scoring a run in the second on a RBI single by Brian Harris. Esposito led off with a single and advanced to second on a single by Loftus. Harris then singled to left on a hit and run to plate Esposito and move Loftus to third. VU squandered an opportunity to add more as Harris was picked off at first and after a walk to Jonathan White, Reynolds grounded into a double play to end the inning.
VU added another run in the third when Liddle doubled to left-center and scored on a RBI single by Casali to make it 2-0.
Dallas Keuchel (5-1) gave up seven runs on 10 hits in 3.1 innings with two strikeouts and two walks in his first loss of the year.
The Commodores and Razorbacks will play the second game of the three game series Saturday afternoon at 3:05 p.m. Right-hander Caleb Cotham (4-3, 3.92 ERA) will take the hill for VU, while Arkansas will counter with righty T.J. Forrest (2-2, 4.32 ERA).
Vanderbilt 011 500 110 -9 11 1
Arkansas 000 000 000 -0 4 4
Minor, Hill (9) and Giobbi. Keuchel, Kowalchuk (4), Wehrle (8) and Cisterna. W- Minor 3-3, L- Keuchel 5-1. Sv- None. HR: None