NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- Vanderbilt scored seven runs in the first two innings courtesy of three homers and used solid pitching by Drew Hayes and Sean Bierman to defeat Mississippi State, 10-4, Saturday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores claimed the series with the win and improved to 26-17 overall and 9-10 in Southeastern Conference action. The Bulldogs, without head coach John Cohen who served a one-game suspension, dropped to 21-23 and 6-14 in league play.
For the second straight day the Commodores used the long ball to take an early 4-0 lead. Brian Harris led off the first with a homer, his fifth of the year, and then Aaron Westlake came through with a mammoth three-run blast to right that cleared the outfield bleachers.
Ryan Duffy's solo homer in the second put MSU on the board, but Curt Casali responded with a three-run homer in the second, his seventh of the year, to extend VU's lead to 7-1.
"We have talked about getting more run production lately and I think today was a combination of that and the wind blowing out," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "When you have a day where the wind is blowing out and you get it up there it will carry, but on the other hand a couple of those today were no doubters. Westlake's cleared the outfield stands in right field so I don't think it was that wind aided."
Drew Hayes cruised through five innings, allowing just one run on three hits before tiring in the sixth. He got the first two outs of the inning before walking Luke Adkins. Russ Sneed singled up the middle to move Adkins to third and Scott DeLoach followed with a RBI single through the right side to make it 7-2. Sean Bierman came on in relief and ended the scoring threat by getting Duffy to ground to first for the third out.
Hayes gave up two runs on five hits in 5.2 innings with five strikeouts and three walks to move to 4-2 on the year. He was scheduled to pitch on Sunday, but a right leg injury to Caleb Cotham caused him to move up a day. Cotham's status for the rest of the weekend is to be determined.
"Drew's performance came a day early because he wasn't supposed to pitch until tomorrow, but I think today was a pretty good role for him," said Corbin. "I was a little concerned after inning two and three but I thought after that he settled down and started to minimize his pitch count."
Grant Hogue's solo homer cut the lead to 7-3 in the seventh, but the Commodores scored two more in the bottom of the seventh and another in the eighth to push the lead to 10-3. Joe Loftus had a two-out RBI single in the seventh and Brian Harris added a RBI single in the eighth to close out the Commodore scoring.
Pinch-hitter Cody Freeman hit a solo homer to center, his fourth of the year, to make it 10-4 in the ninth.
Sean Bierman gave up two runs on three hits in 3.1 innings of relief with two strikeouts to pick up his first collegiate save.
The teams will play the final game of the three game set Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Vanderbilt's starter will either be Caleb Cotham or Sonny Gray, while southpaw Tyler Whitney (2-3, 4.29 ERA) will take the hill for Mississippi State.