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February 16, 2013

Long Beach State lends VU a helping hand on Saturday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, but this was ridiculous.

Vanderbilt was out-hit eight to five, but beat Long Beach State by a 12-2 score at Hawkins Field on Saturday afternoon, thanks to four Dirtbag errors that led to six unearned runs, not to mention 10 walks and four hit-by-pitches.

The Commodores trailed 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth, but Long Beach State imploded for a pair of fifth-inning errors that led to three unearned runs, and it was all downhill from there. A wild pitch accounted for one of VU's two runs in the sixth, and the Commodores incredibly scored seven more in the seventh on the benefit of just one base hit, due to five walks, a hit-by-pitch and an error.

Conrad Gregor, Jack Lupo and Xavier Turner each had one hit and two RBIs apiece for the second-ranked Commodores, who improved to 2-0 on the season.

"I thought we just did what we had to do in order to win that game," VU coach Tim Corbin summarized.

Vanderbilt's Tyler Beede, meanwhile, was not-so-sharp himself, but made the pitches when it counted the most. The sophomore earned a win by going five innings and allowing just a run despite walking five and giving up five hits. He threw 91 pitches, and just 45 went for strikes on a cold day with a small strike zone.

Thirty-seven degree weather with a moderate breeze probably didn't help the quality of play, either. By the end of the day, what was left of the announced crowd of 2,287 was certainly ready to get it over and get home.

"I'm sure (Long Beach State's) not accustomed to 35-below," Corbin quipped afterwards.

Long Beach State scored the game's first run in the third, when Beede walked Richard Prigitano with the bases loaded.

Vanderbilt could do little with Long Beach State starter Shane Carle early on, but caught two huges breaks in the fifth.

Vince Conde led off with a line-drive single to left, and with one out, Turner hit a tailor-made double play to Michael Hill at short. But Hill bobbled the grounder, and everyone was safe.

Carle then hit Tony Kemp with a pitch, and Lupo followed with a solid single to center. Conde scored, and Turner rounded third and held, but center fielder Colby Brenner bobbled the ball and Turner instead came home as Kemp and Lupo moved up a base.

Gregor's ground-out accounted for the third run (all unearned) in the inning.

In the sixth, Mike Yastrzemski led off with a walk, and later scored on a wild pitch. Connor Harrell, who also walked, later scored on a single up the middle by Turner.

Pfeiffer relieved Beede in the sixth, and kept the Dirtbags off the scoreboard that inning. But a Brenner bunt single, an opposite-field single to left and an error on Conde at third brought in a run before Brian Miller came on with one out and ended the threat.

In the seventh, Lupo led off with a walk, and Gregor hit another would-be double-play ball to first baseman Jeff Yamaguchi, who turned to fire to the bag at second. But the throw was low, an error was charged, and when Spencer Navin reached on a fielder's choice on a great bunt (the throw went to third, but Lupo beat it), the bases were loaded again.

Jake Stassi's next pitch plunked Yastrzemski, and another run crossed the plate, and Harrell, hitting against Josh Frye, forced in another on a walk.

McKeithan, Turner and Kemp all walked to score more runs, Lupo drove in one more with a sacrifice fly to left, and Gregor singled up the middle for the inning's only hit.

"We had the green light on, but just didn't have an opportunity to swing the bat," Corbin said.

"When they give you free bases, you've just got to take advantage of it," Yastrzemski added.

Sophomore Philip Pfeiffer shut the door by throwing 1 1/3 scoreless inning of three-hit baseball after Miller tossed 2 2/3 shutout innings.

The teams play again Sunday, with T.J. Pecoraro taking the hill against Long Beach lefty Landon Hunt.

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