June 1, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tony Kemp, Xavier Turner and Mike Yastrzemski combined for 10 hits and eight runs scored and Carson Fulmer tossed five shutout innings in relief for the victory in top-seeded Vanderbilt's 10-4 victory over Illinois Saturday night at Hawkins Field.
With the victory, Vanderbilt (53-9) moves into Sunday night's championship game and awaits the winner of the day's earlier contest between the Illini (35-19) and Georgia Tech, a contest that takes place at 2 p.m. CT.
"Well it was a tough game, basically a tale of two different games really," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "The first part of the game- the first four innings- was a grind. They played very aggressively. I thought we gave them some opportunities, and they capitalized on it. They were going to run the bases, they were going to try to make anything happen and basically try to play our game against ourselves. We should have known that because they're a very good base running team, but the tide turned. We had a couple of big innings, and I think our kids responded very well."
Yastrzemski finished the game with two doubles and a triple along with three RBI, while Kemp posted four hits, giving the junior 100 for the season. He becomes just the fourth Commodore in program history with at least 100 hits in a campaign.
Turner added three hits with three runs scored. Kemp also scored three times and Yastrzemski added two runs. Freshman Zander Wiel collected three hits as well for VU, which pounded out 17 hits in the contest.
Fulmer (3-0) was phenomenal in relief, allowing just three hits with two walks and four strikeouts in five innings. The right-hander entered the game with Vanderbilt leading 5-4 and kept Illinois off the board until the Commodores broke the game open with a five-run eighth inning.
"You try to treat the situation like every other one," said Fulmer. "My job was to come out there and throw strikes and make the defense work. The constant pressure we put on Illinois in the later innings of the game- I knew it was going to be something that was going to happen. My job was to go out there and pound the zone."
VU starter Tyler Beede worked four-plus frames, giving up two earned runs on two hits and five strikeouts, but he struggled with control, walking five and throwing one costly wild pitch.
Illini starter John Kravetz (5-3) took the loss, allowing five runs on nine hits with six strikeouts in 4.1 innings.
Thomas Lindauer led off the bottom of the first with a triple to right-center for the Illini and scored on Justin Parr's sharp groundout for an early 1-0 lead.
"I got ahead in the count and got a fastball in the middle of the plate and hit it to the right-center gap," said Lindauer. "I thought (Mike) Yastrzemski actually caught it because I couldn't see the ball land. It was big, especially playing in front of a crowd this big. We haven't played in front of a crowd like this all season and it was fun. It's one of those things you don't get to do very often, so I really enjoyed that from my personal opinion."
Kemp's heads-up baserunning helped the Commodores take the lead in the third.
The junior singled to right with two outs, breaking an 0-for-10 slump, then stole second. The throw from Illinois catcher Jason Goldstein was wide of the bag and bounced off the glove of Lindauer at short, allowing the speedster to take third on the play.
Turner's single to center tied the game and the freshman stole second as well. He came across on a triple to left-center from Yastrzemski for a 2-1 VU advantage.
Back-to-back walks and a throwing error by Turner loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning for the Illini. Jordan Parr's shallow fly ball to right scored Lindauer and Brandon Hohl's blooper over the first baseman's head plated another, with Michael Hurwitz getting his foot on the plate just in front of the tag after a collision with Spencer Navin.
Illinois scored again in the fourth without the aid of a hit, starting with a leadoff walk to Reid Roper. He stole second, went to third on a groundout by Goldstein and came across on a wild pitch for a 4-2 edge.
Vanderbilt chased Kravetz in the fifth after a leadoff single by Kemp and a ground ball double down the leftfield line from Turner. Yastrzemski's double to right-center scored a pair of runs and Conrad Gregor's groundout up the middle pushed Yastrzemski across for a 5-4 Commodores lead.
VU took advantage of two Illinois errors to score five runs in the eighth and break open the contest.
Navin led off with a single and Jack Lupo's bunt turned into a single. Kemp bunted as well, beating out the play, and the throw from Illinois first baseman David Kerian sailed all the way down the right field line, allowing two runs to score. Turner followed with an RBI single, but the wildness was just beginning in the inning.
Yastrzemski was then hit and Connor Harrell's sacrifice bunt pushed the runners to second and third. Gregor grounded to the mound and Turner was caught in a rundown between third and home, but he avoided the tag near third. Yastrzemski had moved up on the play and started back toward second.
When the throw went to second, Turner broke for the plate and scored when Lindauer's throw got away. Wiel's line drive to center pushed across the final run of the game for the Commodores.
"We talk about all the time, in any bunt situation make sure you get an out," said Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb. "Obviously, if you can get a lead out, that's a bonus, but just get an out and we didn't do that. It turned into a track meet that inning. Even if you get an out, it's one or two runs and you still have a tight game. I thought we competed well. I thought early we did a good job of putting pressure on them. I thought we made Vanderbilt do some things they didn't want to do. We stole some bases and we were an active team, but in that eighth inning we didn't get our jobs done."
A limited number of single game tickets for the Commodores' game Sunday will be available online at vucommodores.com beginning on Saturday night. Tickets are limited, but there will be infield and outfield seats available for purchase online and as walk-up sales at the stadium Sunday. Infield tickets are $20 and outfield tickets are $15.