UPCOMING HOME GAMES AT HAWKINS FIELD Fri., April 18 vs. Auburn at 6 p.m. CT Sat., April 19 vs. Auburn at 12 p.m. CT Sun., April 20 vs. Auburn at 1 p.m. CT
STARKVILLE --- Vanderbilt rode a strong pitching performance by junior Nick Christiani and survived a ninth-inning rally to defeat Mississippi State 4-3 Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
The Commodores swept the three-game series over the Bulldogs to improve to 24-10 overall and 8-6 in Southeastern Conference play. MSU fell to 14-21 and 3-12 in league action.
The sweep was VU's first in conference play on the road since defeating Georgia April 15-16, 1993. It was also the school's first sweep in Starkville since 1914.
"I think it started after Sunday's game," said Tim Corbin when asked about the sweep and 5-0 week. "We just plotted out what we needed to do and take it game by game. I think the midweek was the difference because we really played well. When we came back from the 7-3 deficit on Friday night, I thought that was the pivotal point of the weekend."
Vanderbilt held a 4-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth with freshman hurler Chase Reid on the mound. He pitched a three up and three down eighth but gave up a leadoff walk in the ninth. He struck out Russ Sneed before giving up a single to Ryan Duffy and an infield hit to Ryan Goforth. Ryan Hogue followed with an RBI infield single to cut the lead to 4-3.
Redshirt freshman Richie Goodenow then came on with the bases loaded to face Ryan Collins who had homered early. He was down 2-0 to Collins before coming back to strike him out looking. Redshirt freshman Russell Brewer came in to face designated hitter Jason Nappi and fell behind with two balls and no strikes. Nappi pushed it to a full-count before Brewer struck him out swinging to end the game and also picked up his third save.
Christiani (4-2) gave up two runs on three hits in seven innings of work with 10 strikeouts and four walks.
"I give a lot of credit to Mississippi State because they battled and did not quit," said Christiani. "My offspeed stuff really got me through. Early on my fastball command wasn't what it needed to be, but I flipped some curveballs up there along with some changeups and sliders and that really got me through some innings."
Pedro Alvarez' solo homer in the top of the first put the Dores up 1-0. It was his third homer of the year, all of them coming over the last two weekends of SEC play. It was the 43rd of his career tying him with Glenn Davis (1995-97) for third all-time at Vanderbilt.
David Macias RBI single in the second pushed the lead to 2-0. Parker Hanks singled with one out and after a strikeout, advanced to second when Brian Harris was hit by a pitch. Macias then hit his single down the right field line scoring Hanks.
Ryan Collins two-run homer in the third tied the game at 2-2. Ben Hogue walked with two outs before Collins took Christiani's 1-0 offering over the wall in right, his second homer of the year.
Brian Harris' RBI groundout with the bases loaded in the fourth put VU back on top at 3-2. Andrew Giobbi had an infield single with one out and moved to third after consecutive singles by Shea Robin and Hanks. Harris then grounded to short, allowing Giobbi to score.
Mississippi State threatened in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases with two outs, courtesy of three walks. Christiani ended the threat by striking out Ryan Powers looking.
The Commodores scored an unearned run in the top of the ninth when David Macias tripled and scored on a fielding error by State second baseman Jet Butler on a hot shot off the bat of Pedro Alvarez.
Vanderbilt will be back in action with a pair of road midweek games to close out a stretch of nine of 11 games away from home. VU will take on crosstown foe Lipscomb on Tuesday at 6 p.m. and will face Western Kentucky in Bowling Green on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The Dores will then host Auburn next weekend at Hawkins Field.