NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Mike Minor struck out a career-high 13 batters and Aaron Westlake recorded a career five RBI to lead Vanderbilt to a 8-6 win over Mississippi State Friday night at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores snapped a three-game Southeastern Conference losing streak and improved to 25-17 overall and 8-10 in league action. The Bulldogs dropped to 21-22 and 6-13 in conference play.
"The momentum getting the Friday win is huge," said Corbin. "Our strategy is just to go with our best guy and get the momentum going into a homestand. And we did that tonight. We just need some momentum right now because we are not in any position to look at series wins; we need to be looking at individual wins."
Minor (4-3) allowed four runs on seven hits in 7.2 innings with 13 strikeouts and three walks in his fourth win of the year. His previous high of 12 was set against Alabama last year in Tuscaloosa. It was Minor's third straight double-digit strikeout start and fourth in his last five starts.
"We really came out tonight and put some runs on the board," said Minor. "We started letting up in the end, but we had the run support to pull this win out. I just threw sliders and curveballs for the most part. My fastball was lacking a little bit and sometimes my pitches were hanging a bit. But I think my sliders and curveballs were on tonight."
Westlake hit a grand-slam homer in the first and came through with a RBI single in the fourth to notch five RBI for the first time in his career. He finished 3-for-4 with a run scored on the night.
The Commodores carried an 8-4 lead into the ninth before the Bulldogs made it interesting with a two-out two-run homer by Connor Powers to cut the lead to 8-6. Chase Reid recorded the final out in the eighth and the first two in the ninth via strikeouts before Ryan Collins hit a pop up to shallow center that fell in between three fielders for a two-out double. Powers then blasted a homer to left-center, his 14th of the year.
Mississippi State head coach John Cohen was ejected after Powers' homer as he argued vehemently with home plate umpire Tony Maners.
Russell Brewer came on to face Russ Sneed and struck out him out to end the game and notch his third save of the year.
Vanderbilt got off to a fast start scoring four runs in the first on Westlake's grand slam. It was his second homer of the season and first since hitting one against UIC on March 8.
After the Bulldogs scored a run in the top of the second, VU responded in the bottom half courtesy of a three-run homer by Steven Liddle to extend the lead to 7-1. It was his sixth round-tripper of the year, tying him for the team lead with Curt Casali. Liddle finished 3-for-5 with three RBI and three runs scored.
VU added another run on a RBI single by Westlake in the fourth to make it 8-1.
"Westlake did a great job tonight," added Corbin. "Way to put it in the opposite bleachers with the bases loaded. And Liddle also had a great home run. I mean, we had seven runs on two swings. It's a win and we'll take it. It got a bit interesting at the end, but we finished it out."
Minor was cruising through the first five innings before running into trouble in the sixth. He allowed one run on three hits through five and had two outs in the sixth before the Bulldogs started a rally. Russ Sneed walked and moved to second on a single by Scott DeLoach. Cody Freeman then doubled down the right field line to score both and then scored himself on a RBI triple by Brent Brownlee to make it 8-4.
The teams will play the second game of the three game set tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. Righthander Caleb Cotham (5-4, 4.91 ERA) is expected to get the start for Vanderbilt, while southpaw Nick Routt (4-2, 3.06 ERA) will take the hill for Mississippi State.