Batting slumps for Vanderbilt’s Ryan Flaherty usually don’t last long.
The junior shortstop had been struggling at the plate, going just 4-for-19 in the past five games entering Wednesday’s matchup against Austin Peay.
For at least a day, the slump came to an end as Flaherty rapped out three hits, including a home run, to lead the 19th-ranked Commodores to an 8-1 victory at Hawkins Field.
Vanderbilt is accustomed to such offensive explosions from Flaherty, who batted a team-high .381 last season while crafting a 35-game hitting streak.
VU coach Tim Corbin dismissed Flaherty’s recent drought as a case of bad luck.
“He’s had some balls he’s hit hard,” Corbin said. “He’s the one guy on our team who’s kind of been jinxed a little bit. He’s hit the ball relatively hard and had nothing to show for it.”
Flaherty, who collected only two hits in 11 at-bats last weekend while the Commodores were being swept in a three-game series at Ole Miss, got the Vanderbilt offense started Wednesday with a home run to right field in the third inning to make it 3-0.
He singled and scored in the fifth. His single to left drove in Pedro Alvarez to make it 7-1.
“I was excited to come out here and get some hits,” Flaherty said. “Just have some fun, that was the biggest thing. It’s a grind, so just stay on it. Hopefully this will kick-start it again and get it going.”
Five Vanderbilt pitchers combined to strike out nine batters and limit the Governors to seven hits. Starter Chase Reid [3-0] earned the win as VU improved to 21-10.
Reliever Drew Hayes helped the Commodores escape danger in the fifth inning when he entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs. He promptly retired Joshua Kemph, Rafael Hill and J.B. Gilbert to end the threat.
Jeff Lykins [0-2] took the loss for Austin Peay, which fell to 15-15.
In beating Western Kentucky on Tuesday and Austin Peay on Wednesday, Commodore pitchers surrendered two earned runs and 13 hits.
“Giving up two runs in 18 innings was quality work, especially where we are with youth on the mound and where we’ve been coming from in the last week,” Corbin said.
Austin Peay’s only run came in the sixth inning when Matt Kole doubled and later scored on a single by Greg Bachman.
WESTLAKE OUT: Vanderbilt freshman Aaron Westlake, who started four games as a designated hitter this year, will miss the remainder of the 2008 season after undergoing shoulder surgery Wednesday.
Westlake, a native of Redding, Calif., was one of the top recruits in VU’s signing class of 2007. He batted .241 this season in 15 at-bats.
Vanderbilt will apply for a medical redshirt for Westlake.