June 3, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Philip Pfeifer tossed five shutout innings and Xavier Turner drove in three runs, leading Vanderbilt to a 7-1 victory over Georgia Tech and a berth into the NCAA Super Regionals Monday night at Hawkins Field.
Vanderbilt (54-10), the No. 2 national seed in this year's NCAA Tournament, advances to take on Louisville next weekend at home. The three-game series will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Pfeifer (4-0) allowed just four hits, walked two and struck out four, working out of jams with a pair of double plays and getting a nice running catch from centerfielder Connor Harrell to end another Yellow Jacket threat.
"It's been a big week for Phil Pfeifer," Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin said. "He had to pitch a championship game against LSU and I was glad he got the opportunity to pitch tonight and pitch so well. He did a very good job and we played some good defense behind him."
The lefthander gave way to Brian Miller, who got the final 12 outs for his 16th save of the year. Miller walked one and struck out five, giving up an unearned run but no hits.
Every Commodore starter had at least one hit, with Conrad Gregor posting three of the club's 13 hits in the victory. Vince Conde and Spencer Navin added two hits apiece and Navin and Mike Yastrzemski both scored twice for VU.
"Coach (Corbin) said to us yesterday that if you were to come in here and say there's one game to play for a championships, every single person would sign-up for it," said Yastrzemski, who earned regional MVP honors. "Just coming out here and having fun and smiling and being into each other was what we needed to do, and we did."
Georgia Tech ace Buck Farmer (9-5), pitching on two days rest after throwing just 58 pitches on Saturday due to rain, suffered the loss, allowing two runs on five hits in four innings. He walked four and struck two.
Vanderbilt could have done more damage, but stranded 13 base runners in the contest, including two runners in the first, second, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
VU's Tony Kemp led off the bottom of the first inning with a single but was thrown out by Mitch Earnest trying to steal second. Yastrzemski and Harrell each drew two-out walks later in the inning, though. Yastrzemski broke for third on a 2-2 pitch and Gregor grounded sharply up the middle.
Tech shortstop Mott Hyde made a diving stop, keeping the ball in the infield, but Yastrzemski never stopped moving on the play, sliding in just ahead of the tag for the first run of the game.
The Commodores added to the lead in the second when Conde blooped a leadoff single into right-center and Navin singled to left-center. After a sacrifice bunt by Jack Lupo, Kemp was intentionally walked, loading the bases. Turner's groundout plated Conde for a 2-0 VU edge.
Vandy posted another run in the fifth, as Yastrzemski singled to center and Harrell followed with a single to left. Rhett Wiseman's two-out chopper through the right side drove in the run for a 3-0 Commodores advantage.
The Yellow Jackets had plenty of base runners in the early going against Pfeifer, but lined into a double play in the first inning and flied out with two runners on base in the fourth. Tech was also a little unlucky, as Thomas Smith's line drive to left-center was run down by Harrell to end the third inning, again with two runners on base.
Navin was hit to leadoff the sixth for VU and Lupo followed with a double to left-center. Kemp drew a walk, loading the bases, and Turner's high chopper plated another run for a 4-0 lead. Tech got out of the inning without any further damage, though, getting a force out at the plate and tagging out Kemp trying to score on a pitch that bounced away from the catcher.
Georgia Tech got on the board in the seventh, taking advantage of an error by Vanderbilt.
A.J. Murray was hit by Miller to leadoff the inning and Earnest walked with two outs. Daniel Spingola then grounded into the hole at short, but the ball bounced off the glove and through the legs of Conde into leftfield, allowing Murray to score and cutting the VU lead to 4-1.
Vanderbilt broke the game open with three runs in the bottom of the inning, thanks in large part to one throwing error from Tech.
Gregor led off the inning with a single to center and stole second. Rhett Wiseman laid down a bunt, but Tech pitcher Joe Wiseman's throw was high and sailed down the right field line, allowing Gregor to score.
Conde's bunt pushed the runner to third and after a walk to Navin, Rhett Wiseman scored on a squeeze bunt from Lupo. Kemp was intentionally walked for the second time in the game, setting up Turner again, this time for an RBI single through the middle, driving in the final run of the game.
Georgia Tech Head Coach Danny Hall was a little frustrated at the way his team handled the bunts.
"Honestly, the three bunts weren't good bunts," Hall said. "Two of them were right to the pitcher and we threw one of them down the right field line and that's what happened in the Vanderbilt-Illinois game the other night. A wild throw opened the floodgates, so we definitely had talked about that. We knew they were going to do it, just take the outs."
Corbin is ready for rival Louisville in the Super Regional, but as exciting as facing a rival in the post season is, he was quick to point out the emphasis is on his club.
"We have that one game, the Battle of the Barrel, and there's some importance put on that even though it's a midweek game," Corbin said. "We're in close proximity, we've played each other in some tough battles and we've had wild games at the end. We have a lot of respect, but this is all about Vanderbilt and will always be about Vanderbilt."