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April 2, 2013

Vanderbilt clobbers MTSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Just a few weeks removed from dropping a rare mid-week game in Murfreesboro, the No. 2 Vanderbilt Commodores trounced the MTSU Blue Raiders 12-3 on another cold Tuesday night at Hawkins Field.

Sophomore shortstop Vince Conde's grand slam in the third and a pair of 3-run innings in the sixth and the seventh powered the lineup as the Commodores generated 12 runs for the second straight game. Conde's "granny" also marked the second consecutive game with a round-tripper for the Commodores.

Vanderbilt got on the board in the first inning when a Connor Harrell's fielder's choice drove in Xavier Turner. MTSU tied the game in the second as Vanderbilt freshman starter Tyler Ferguson surrendered three straight walks, forcing in Blue Raider Robert Lawrence with the bases loaded.

MTSU starter Jordan Cooper put on his own series of runners in the bottom of the third when he walked Turner and hit both Conrad Gregor and Harrell to load the bases. Following a pitching change by the Blue Raiders and a strike out by Mike Yastrzemski, Vince Conde laid into a 1-2 pitch off Joey McClung that lined to left, just over the 375 sign for the grand slam.

The Commodores tacked on another run in the fourth when Turner's grounder to short scored John Norwood. MTSU inched the game closer at 6-2 with a run in the fifth, but VU led off the sixth with three straight singles by Norwood, Kemp and Turner. Turner's single to right scored Norwood, and Kemp scored moments later with a Gregor fly out to right. Yastrzemski's single to left two batters later on drove in Turner.

Vanderbilt put the game completely out of reach in the seventh when Kyle Smith scored following a wild pitch and Connor Harrell drove in a pair of runs with a single past third.

Junior Steven Rice got the win with 2.2 innings of relief, giving up just one hit and striking out three. Ferguson went 4.1 innings, surrendering two earned runs with four walks, four strikeouts and three hits allowed. Sophomore righty Adam Ravenelle made his second appearance of the season to close out the game, going a pair of innings with two hits, one earned run and three strikeouts.

Jordan Cooper took the loss for MTSU as his record drops to 2-2 on the year.

Xavier Turner had another strong night for the Commodores at the plate. The freshman third baseman went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI. He also stole a pair of bases and scored four runs on the night. Connor Harrell finished with three RBI to drive his season total to 37.

Sophomore John Norwood went 2-for-4 and scored a pair of runs while Mike Yastrzemski was 2-for-5 with a RBI.

Vanderbilt improved to 26-4 on the season with the victory and 19-2 at Hawkins Field. The Blue Raiders dropped to 16-15 on the year.

The Commodores will head to Oxford, Mississippi on Friday for a three-game series against No. 16 Ole Miss. The Rebels are 23-6 on the season, but sit at just 4-5 within the SEC Western Division standings. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. CT on Friday.

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