Nashville, Tenn. -
Vanderbilt opened the Gold & Black series Thursday night with an exciting 8-7 walk-off win for the Gold team.
The two teams were deadlocked at 5-5 after nine innings to force extra innings and a slight change to the rules. Instead of starting the inning with no outs and the bases empty, both teams started with one out and the bases loaded. The Black team immediately took advantage with Tony Kemp lining a single to left-center to score a run and take the lead. Gold pitcher Jared Miller bounced back to get the next two outs and give his team a chance. Zander Wiel wasted no time in the bottom of the 10th, lifting a sacrifice fly to right field to even the game again. The Black squad used a sacrifice of their own off the bat of Vince Conde in the 11th but Miller struck out Conrad Gregor with runners on second and third to end the threat.
Black team lefty Steven Rice walked leadoff hitter Tyler Campbell to start the bottom of the 11th and force in the tying run. Gold team leadoff hitter John Norwood worked a full count against Rice before ripping a walk-off single to right-center field to give the Gold team game one of the series.
Pitching dominated the first three innings of the game as starters T.J. Pecoraro and Kevin Ziomek cruised. Ziomek was the first to find trouble, giving up four runs in the fourth inning. The lefty had struck out seven of the first 10 batters he faced through three frames but the fourth started with a leadoff walk to Joel McKeithan. Connor Harrell followed with a RBI-double to get the rally going before coming around to score on a sac fly from Wiel. Campbell capped the rally with a RBI-single that chased Ziomek from the game.
The Black squad responded in the top of the fifth with five runs to take the lead. Gold right-hander T.J. Pecoraro had allowed only three base runners in the first four frames and retired the first two batters of the fifth before giving up a single to Will Cooper. Freshmen Kyle Smith and Dansby Swanson followed with singles of their own to load the bases for D.J. Luna, who worked a walk to force in a run. Tony Kemp then made Pecoraro pay, driving a three-run triple into the right field corner to draw the Black team even. One batter later Kemp scored on a wild pitch to put the Black team on top.
The Gold squad battled back to tie the game in the eighth inning after Wiel doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a fielder's choice bunt by Andrew Harris.
Kemp led all players with three hits on the night and four RBI for the Black squad in a losing effort. Norwood, Harrell and Campbell all had two hits to help pace the Gold team. Campbell drove in two runs along with Wiel, who also scored twice.
Miller picked up the victory with 2.1 solid innings out of the bullpen. The big lefty allowed two unearned runs on one hits with three strikeouts. Rice was pinned with the loss, giving up three unearned runs on one hit and four strikeouts. Pecoraro finished the night giving up five runs on six hits with one walk and one strikeout over 4.2 innings. Ziomek allowed four runs on five hits with seven strikeouts in 3.2 innings.
The two teams battle tomorrow night with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. at Hawkins Field.