No. 17 Vanderbilt (36-13, 12-10 SEC) at Mississippi State (21-28, 5-19)
Friday, May 14 6:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, May 15 2 p.m. CT
Sunday, May 16 1:30 p.m. CT
Dudy Noble Field (15,000)
Series History vs. Mississippi State
Mississippi State leads all-time 61-34-1 in a series that dates back to 1913. The Commodores have won seven straight in the series dating back to 2007 and have captured 11 of the last 13 meetings going back to 2003. VU swept the Bulldogs in Starkville for the first time in school history in 2008. MSU leads 33-15-1 in games in Starkville.
April 26, 2009: Vanderbilt 11, Mississippi State 3 - Nashville
April 25, 2009: Vanderbilt 10, Mississippi State 4 - Nashville
April 24, 2009: Vanderbilt 8, Mississippi State 6 - Nashville
April 13, 2008: Vanderbilt 4, Mississippi State 3 - Starkville
April 12, 2008: Vanderbilt 16, Mississippi State 0 - Starkville
April 11, 2008: Vanderbilt 15, Mississippi State 8 - Starkville
May 24, 2007: Vanderbilt 3, Mississippi State 2 - Hoover, Ala.
Vanderbilt is ranked No. 17 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll and by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, No. 23 by Baseball America and Rivals.com and No. 24 by Collegiate Baseball. Mississippi State is not ranked.
VU's Tim Corbin is 312-170 in his eighth season in Nashville. He is 418-308 in 14 seasons overall. Corbin is 12-4 against the Bulldogs. MSU's John Cohen is 46-57 in his second season as head coach of the Bulldogs and 367-254-1 in 10 years overall He is 6-12 against Vanderbilt.
All of Vanderbilt's games this weekend can be heard in Nashville on 560 AM WNSR. Joe Fisher will call all the action. Fans can sign up for text updates via www.twitter.com/vandybaseball and follow livestats for every game and webcasts this weekend at www.mstateathletics.com.
What's On Tap
Vanderbilt heads into the final two regular season series of Southeastern Conference play starting this weekend with a three-game series at Mississippi State. The Commodores and Bulldogs will open the set on Friday at 6:30 p.m. CT and will continue on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT, before wrapping things up on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
About Mississippi State
Mississippi State is 21-28 overall and in last place in the SEC West with a 5-19 record. The Bulldogs snapped an 11-game losing streak against Northwestern State, 8-5, on Wednesday night at Dudy Noble Field.
State is 19-11 at home and are 4-8 in league play in Starkville with series wins over Georgia and Tennessee.
Senior first baseman Connor Powers leads the team with a .389 batting average with 14 homers, 18 doubles and 64 RBI. Another power source is senior designated hitter Russ Sneed who has nine homers and 40 RBI to go with a .300 batting average.
As a team MSU is hitting at a .296 clip with 57 homers, 100 doubles and 359 runs scored (7.3 per game).
On the mound the Bulldogs will start senior left-hander Tyler Whitney (0-3, 5.82 ERA) on Friday night and freshman right-hander Chris Stratton (4-3, 5.97 ERA) on Saturday. The starter for the finale is to be determined. Freshman right-hander Ben Bracewell is one of the top relievers out of the bullpen with four saves in 16 relief appearances. He has 21 strikeouts and 10 walks in 17.1 innings with a 5.71 ERA.
As a staff, MSU sports a 6.30 team ERA with 347 strikeouts and 206 walks in 424.1 innings.
Defensively Mississippi State has made 83 errors on the year and has a .956 fielding percentage, last in the SEC.
Commodores Win In 17 Innings Over No. 9 Louisville
Jason Esposito's solo home run off the roof of adjacent Memorial Gym in the bottom of the 17th inning lifted Vanderbilt to an 11-10 win over Louisville Tuesday night at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores won their third straight game to improve to 36-13 overall while the Cardinals fell to 40-9 on the year.
U of L reliever Andy Flett recorded the first two outs of the 17th before Esposito crushed a 0-1 changeup over the "Green Monster" fence in left field and onto Memorial Gym to win the game. It was his team leading ninth homer of the year, ending a game that went five hours and 33 minutes.
The crowd of 3,203 fans, the largest for a midweek game in Vanderbilt baseball history, saw the Commodores rally from three deficits including two two-run margins in their last at bats in the ninth and 14th innings.
The game raised approximately $21,600 for flood relief efforts for the Nashville chapter of the American Red Cross, not including concessions and Vanderbilt Book Store donations that will be added at a later time.
Admission to the game was free as donations were accepted and the school also collected money for the Red Cross through auctioning off souvenirs, which, among other things, included a Chicago Bears helmet signed by Jay Cutler, Earl Bennett and Chris Williams and a baseball glove signed by David Price. The University of Louisville also played a part in the efforts, bringing a check for relief efforts.
In addition to the monetary donation, countless amount of food and household goods were collected to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank and Hands on Nashville.
Both teams combined to use 14 pitchers (seven each) with the Commodores down to their last pitcher available in Will Clinard. He responded in a big way, throwing a career high six innings of four hit ball. He gave up two runs in the 14th but came back and threw three straight shutout innings afterwards. The Robertson County native struck out four and walked one while moving to 3-0 on the year.
Louisville put up as four spot in the first inning and added another run in the second inning to take an early 5-0 lead.
Vanderbilt starter Chase Reid gave up five runs, four earned, on five hits in two innings of work with a walk and a strikeout.
The Commodores posted six runs in the third inning to take a 6-5 lead. Bryan Johns started the rally with a one out double into the gap in left. Brian Harris followed with a two-run homer to left, his second in as many games, and his fifth homer of the season. Anthony Gomez singled up the middle and Jason Esposito was hit by a pitch before Aaron Westlake struck out. Curt Casali doubled down the left field line to plate a run and Andrew Giobbi followed with a bloop double to right center to score two and tie the game at 5-5. Joe Loftus then gave VU the lead with a single to right-center to plate Giobbi.
The Cardinals tied it in the top of the fifth when Jeff Arnold singled, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Andrew Clark's RBI single up the middle.
The game remained a scoreless tie until the ninth when Louisville scored two runs on Phil Wunderlich's double down the left field line off of Vanderbilt closer Russell Brewer.
The Commodores rallied for the second time of the night in the ninth as Gomez reached on a fielder's choice and moved to third on Esposito's bloop double to center. Aaron Westlake then hit a grounder to Louisville shortstop Adam Duvall that brought in one run, and then another as his throw over to first to get Westlake sailed wide of first.
The game went into extra innings with Russell Brewer pitching until the 11th.
Clinard came on in the 12th and pitched two scoreless innings before the Cardinals struck for two runs in the 14th. Wunderlich singled with one out and Stewart IJames walked before J.J. Ethel doubled them home to give the Cardinals a 10-8 lead.
Vanderbilt rallied for the third and final time of the night in the 14th when Westlake led off with a single and scored on Curt Casali's RBI double that narrowly missed clearing the fence in left. Mark Lamm came on to pinch run for Casali and advanced to third when Loftus walked and Jordan Wormsley was hit by a pitch by reliever Tony Zych. Mike Yastrzemski then hit a deep fly ball to right that Lamm tagged on from third to score and tie the game at 10-10.
Flett (0-1) took the loss, allowing the one run on the only hit he gave up in 2.2 innings of relief.
In all Louisville hurlers combined to strikeout six Commodore batters, while the Vanderbilt pitching staff struck out 15 batters.
Brian Harris was once again a catalyst from the leadoff spot going 4-for-6 with two RBI and a run scored. He reached base eight times in 10 plate appearances including two walks and two hit by pitches.
Gomez, Esposito, Casali and Giobbi each had two hits to help lead the 15 hit attack, while the offense also left 14 runners on base in the contest.
Jeff Arnold led the Cardinals with four hits and three runs scored.
Loftus Named SEC Player of the Week
Sophomore outfielder Joe Loftus was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week after leading Vanderbilt to a series win over defending national champion LSU over the weekend in Baton Rouge.
The Minnesota native went 6-for-14 (.429) with two doubles, a triple, homer, seven RBI and four runs scored in the series. He recorded a double, triple and home run and five RBI in his first three at-bats on Friday night and was a single away from hitting for the cycle.
He added a single in Saturday's win and then had two hits on Sunday, including a clutch two-out two-run game-winning single in the eighth inning of the Commodores 4-3 win.
This is the first weekly honor for Loftus in his career and he enters the weekend with a .262 batting average with six homers and 31 RBI and also leads all outfielders with seven assists on the season.
Freshman infielder Anthony "Go-Go" Gomez is having a stellar year at the plate in his first season as a Commodore. The New Jersey native currently leads the team and is second in the SEC in hitting with a .433 batting average entering this weekend's series against Mississippi State. By the NCAA listings, he leads all freshmen in batting average and is the seventh toughest batter to strikeout in the nation with just five K's in 141 at bats on the year. His 14 game hit streak earlier in the year still stands as the longest of the year for the Commodores. Last Friday night he hit his first collegiate home run in dramatic fashion, a two-out solo shot in the ninth off of LSU ace closer Matty Ott that sent the game into extra innings.
Vanderbilt has won three of its last four and captured its first Southeastern Conference road series of the year against defending national champion LSU ... The Commodores handed the Tigers their first SEC home series loss of the year and the first since dropping two of three to Tennessee last year. VU has now won the last three series against LSU dating back to the 2006 season ... VU capped off non-conference play against Louisville on Tuesday and went 24-3 in contests out of the SEC ... Freshman second baseman Anthony Gomez (the nation's top freshman in batting average) went 6-for-13 (.462) on the weekend with six runs scored, a homer and two RBI ... Sophomore outfielder Joe Loftus seemed comfortable at the plate in Baton Rouge going 6-for-14 (.429) with two doubles, a triple, a homer, seven RBI and four runs scored. He was a single away from the cycle on Friday night after notching a career best five RBI and then game up with the game-winning two-out two-run single in the eighth inning of Sunday's 4-3 win over the Tigers ... Third baseman Jason Esposito had a great weekend at the plate and in the field: going 5-for-12 (.417) with a double, three stolen bases and four runs scored while also playing a flawless third base with three putouts and 12 assists in the three games ... Aaron Westlake went 5-for-14 (.357) with a double, four RBI and two runs scored ... As a team, VU hit .308 with four homers, six doubles, a triple and 25 runs scored in the three games ... After the pitching staff combined to give up 16 runs on a season high 19 hits allowed, they buckled down under the steady pitching of Saturday starter Taylor Hill and Sunday starter Jack Armstrong ... A day after the offensive barrage, Hill held the Tigers scoreless for 8.2 innings before giving up a two-out, two-run single in the ninth. He closed out the game for his first collegiate complete game, allowing the two runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts and a walk ... Jack Armstrong followed that performance up on Sunday, allowing two runs on six hits in 7.2 innings with three strikeouts and two walks. He left the game with the Commodores holding a 4-2 lead and is now 6-1 on the year ... Sonny Gray had his shortest starting outing of his career on Friday against LSU, allowing seven runs on seven hits in three innings with four walks and three strikeouts. The resilient sophomore bounced back from that outing, asking for the ball in relief on Sunday. He picked up his first save of the year with 1.1 innings of two-hit relief, allowing one run while striking out three ... As a team the pitching staff had a 6.18 ERA with 26 strikeouts and 10 walks in 27.2 innings pitched. Take out the Friday anomaly and the staff (consisting of Hill, Armstrong and Gray) sported a 2.50 ERA with 14 strikeouts and four walks in 18.0 innings, limiting the Tigers to a .217 average
Corbin Coaching Milestones
Head coach Tim Corbin notched his 307th career win at Vanderbilt against Middle Tennessee on Wednesday, April 21 moving him past Larry Schmittou (306) into second place on the school's all-time coaching wins list. He has 312 wins entering the weekend series against Mississippi State. The Commodores all-time wins leader is Roy Mewbourne who went 655-608-9 from 1979-2002. Corbin notched his 400th career victory on March 24 over Wright State and recorded his 300th victory at Vanderbilt against Florida on April 4. Corbin also had 106 victories in five seasons at Presbyterian.
Brewer Closing in Saves Record
Redshirt junior Russell Brewer recorded his sixth save of the season in the Commodores 11-10 win over Middle Tennessee on April 21, giving him 18 saves in his career. He needs one more to tie Ryan Rote who notched 19 saves in two seasons as a Commodore. Brewer is seventh in the SEC in saves and sports a 2.57 earned run average in 18 relief appearances with 38 strikeouts and seven walks in 28.0 innings pitched. He was added to the Stopper of the Year Watch List on April 15.
Player - Saves (Years at Vanderbilt)
1. Ryan Rote - 19 (2004-05) 2. Russell Brewer - 18 (2007-present)
3. David Daniels - 15 (1992-95)