Friday, May 21, 2010

Notes: Postseason baseball in the air

by Barca Blog

A couple of notes on Vanderbilt's 4-3 win over Arkansas on Thursday night...

Playoff intensity

Even though it was technically a regular season game last night, the intensity on the field mirrored that of a postseason showdown.

Just ask starting pitcher Sonny Gray if his adrenaline was running high. The sophomore righty reared back and hit 99 mph on the radar gun twice in the top of the first.

And that's the way it should have been with both squads fighting for the chance to host a NCAA Regional. You could feel the significance and impact of every pitch with the possibility of momentum shifting at any moment.

In the end, Gray and the rest of the Commodores showed their true toughness by buckling down to take game one of the series.

"We talked about this being the start of a playoff situation," head coach Tim Corbin said. "We thought this was the start of regional-type baseball. That was the feeling we had all along. It was a tight ballgame, well-pitched and defended by both sides for the most part. You knew it was going to come down to a swing or a pitch or a play, and that's what it did."

Brewer held out with 'sore arm'

With a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the 9th, Corbin opted to go with Chase Reid to relieve Gray, instead of Russell Brewer, who leads the team with six saves (and ranks second all-time in school history.) Reid recorded the final three outs to pick up his first save of the season.

"(Brewer) has a sore arm," Corbin explained. "He just wasn't feeling good. He didn't really feel good against Mississippi State. We're just trying to give him some time to bounce back. He's fine, though. We extended him three times in a row, so we just want to give him a little more time if we can."

Corbin said Brewer was available in the bullpen if needed, but he probably would have been third in line after Reid and Richie Goodenow. Reid had two prior career saves, both during postseason play last year.

Regional debate

Corbin gave his thoughts on the Commodores' chances of hosting a regional following the victory.

"We just have to do what we can do," Corbin said. "We're 40-13 with an RPI of 13. We're in the hunt, but it doesn't necessarily mean you get one. I think if we finish third or fourth in the SEC, we give ourselves a chance. If we finish third, I think we give ourselves a real chance.

"Our body of work has been very impressive in my mind ... I think what we've done over the course of time, if we're able and fortunate enough to win the series, we'll see what happens."

Streak ends

Jason Esposito's streak of reaching base safely came to an end when he struck out looking in the fifth. Esposito, who extended the streak to 17 with a double in the first and infield single in the third, finished one shy of the NCAA record set by Cal State Northridge's Shaun Larkin in 2002.

Seniors to be honored pregame Friday

Vanderbilt will recognize the careers of eight seniors prior to Friday's game: Andrew Giobbi, Brian Harris, Russell Brewer, Richie Goodenow, Drew Hayes, Jordan Wormsley, Mark Lamm, and student assistant Alexander Levitt. The ceremony will start at 5:45 p.m. CT.

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