May 20, 2014
Hoover, Ala. - No. 17 Vanderbilt survived a late scare from Tennessee to edge the Volunteers 3-2 in the opening game of the Southeastern Conference in Hoover, Ala.
The Commodores (41-16) took a one-run lead into the top of the ninth and called on Carson Fulmer to close out the game. But Nick Senzel ripped a leadoff double to left to put the Volunteers (31-23) in scoring position to tie the game. Fulmer made matters worse with a balk to move Senzel to third with no outs. The Vandy defense, however, came up big for Fulmer when Taylor Smart hit a one-hopper to Xavier Turner at third. The sophomore fielded the bouncer and tagged Senzel before he could get back to bag for the first out of the inning. Fulmer took care of the rest from there, picking off Smart at first and striking out Vincent Jackson to end the game and earn his team-best 10th save of the season.
Vandy jumped on Tennessee starter Hunter Martin in the first inning to grab an early lead. Consecutive singles from Turner and Bryan Reynolds put two runners aboard before Vince Conde came through with a clutch, two-out single to score Turner from third. Reynolds came into score when Conde stole second and Tennessee catcher Tyler Schulz's throw bounced into center field.
The Volunteers battled back to tie the game in the top of the second before the Commodores took it for good in the bottom of the inning. Rhett Wiseman led off the inning with a hard-hit triple to right-center field and scored two batters later on Ro Coleman's infield single.
Vandy starter Walker Buehler was stellar over his eight innings, allowing two runs on six hits with five strikeouts to become the first Commodore with 10 wins this season. After giving up two runs in the second inning, the right-hander settled in and retired 17 of the final 20 batters he faced to get the Dores to the ninth inning. Martin took the loss for Tennessee allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits over three innings.
Turner led the Commodores with three hits to match his total from the previous four games. Senzel led the Volunteers with three of the team's seven hits.
Vanderbilt advances to take on LSU tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. at The Hoover Met.
Vanderbilt Coach Tim Corbin
"It was a very tightly contested baseball game; it was well pitched. I thought their kids, and I say kids because they had two freshmen, I thought they pitched very well. I think they are a very good hitting team, and I think they contained us. They played us very tough throughout the season. They should hold their heads up high. They played very well. As far as our kids are concerned, I was very proud of Walker (Buehler). I thought he was very mature today. Once he got through the second inning it was tough to think that he could get through the game the way he did, but he pitched even in the eighth and in my opinion he didn't over throw, he executed his pitches very well. He contained what I thought were the top three guys in their lineup who were left-handed, who could have done a lot of damage to a lot of SEC teams this year and he pitched very well. As far as the last inning, I mean the guy to my right (Xavier Turner) made a heck of a play. I think in this game sometimes there are baseball angels and sometimes there are baseball devils. And we had an angel. We won a tight game, and we're thankful to just move on."
"I just thought he (Turner) was very mature; he didn't even flinch. He took what they gave him and what they gave him were pitches that were away. He did a good job of punching that ball into the opposite side of the field, and obviously this baseball park is really a great precursor for a team who goes to Omaha because the dimensions are very similar to TD Ameritrade."
Xavier Turner, 3B
(On 9th inning tag out)
"I was just in good position. Our coach put me in good position, and the ball was hit to me and I was just trying to make the play. I knew that I was up in front of the base. The runner was right next to me so I knew I had a chance to tag him. I was just in the right place at the right time and made the play."
Walker Buehler, P
"I wouldn't say I was working through the second inning. Tennessee hit some swings on some good balls up the middle where we don't have any guys. They're a good offensive team, with some good left-handed bats. Some righties are a little more difficult sometimes but we did a good job. We're thankful to have gotten through the rest of the game."
"I don't know if you do anything different with their lineup. I think your attitude may be a little different. You know their top three hitters, and you know their faces. Kind of makes it a different thought process, but I didn't do anything different."
Tennessee Coach Dave Serrano
"I don't want to say our season has ended because I believe we have an opportunity. We didn't help ourselves today but there are a lot of things that could happen around the county that someone may feel worthy of getting in. Today was a microcosm of what our season has been about. It's a group of guys who have fought extremely hard. The ninth inning was probably an example of what we have had to deal with all year long. I am proud of them coming to the SEC tournament. It's just at times, the game got going a little too fast for us."
Taylor Smart, 3B
"We didn't pull through today. We've had a lot of close ballgames this whole season. We just haven't been able to get it done; just didn't pull it through."
Kyle Serrano, RHP
"I just tried to go in and pick up Hunter. (Hunter Martin) didn't exactly have his best stuff today. I threw some pitches when I had to. That's basically all I did."