By David Rutz
10-4 triumph over Illinois State kept its season alive. Now the Commodores face the daunting task of defeating top-seeded Louisville both tonight and tomorrow to advance to their first Super Regional since 2004. Here are some notes on Sunday's win and their weekend so far.
*With the win, Vanderbilt improved to 2-1 on the weekend and 17-16 in its history in NCAA Tournament play. Under Tim Corbin, the Commodores are now 14-10.
*Aaron Westlake seems to like Jim Patterson Stadium. He drove in four runs today, the big hit being his three-run homer in the ninth, and has driven in six in the past three games. He now has four home runs in this year's and last year's Regionals at Louisville.
*Jack Armstrong was wild Sunday, issuing six walks, but he only allowed one hit. Although Vanderbilt never trailed, he didn't get the win, only going four innings and allowing three earned runs. Will Clinard (4-0) pitched an inning of relief and got the victory.
*Vanderbilt pitching did a good job of containing Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Kevin Tokarski, as he went 0-8 with two runs scored and no RBIs in two games against the Commodores. He entered the NCAA Regional batting .429, which ranked him among the nation's best.
*The Commodore bullpen continues to do outstanding work. Clinard, Drew Hayes and Chase Reid pitched five innings against Illinois State, allowing one unearned run and striking out five. In three regional games, Vanderbilt relievers have allowed just one earned run in 15 1/3 innings for a microscopic 0.59 ERA.
*Illinois State committed seven errors, as many as the Redbirds had committed in the last eight games. They also walked 10 and hit three Vanderbilt hitters.
*Heading into the 9th inning against the Redbirds, Vanderbilt was 0-12 with runners in scoring position on the day and 0-15 since Jack Armstrong's game-winning hit in the 13th on Friday against Illinois State. Westlake's 3-run home run off Cam Verbeke provided a huge cushion, and the Commodores tacked on two more after an RBI double by Joe Loftus and Curt Casali's sharp grounder that was misplayed for an error to score Loftus.
For the weekend though, Vanderbilt is still only hitting .179 (7-39, 16 RBIs) with runners in scoring position. Also, with 17 men left on base Sunday, the Commodores have stranded a total of 41 runners the past three games.