Gray avoids a bad inning, named SEC's best for the week

Monday, March 7, 2011 at 11:12pm

Sonny Gray has had a lot of good games as a starting pitcher for Vanderbilt. Almost every one of them included one bad inning.

Last Friday, though, the junior right-hander was at his best when he struck out a career-high 15 in a complete-game victory over Brown. That performance earned him the Southeastern Conference pitcher of the week award, which was announced Monday.

With the victory, Gray improved to 3-0 on the season.

Perhaps more importantly, he avoided the bad inning or anything resembling such. For the first time in his career, he did not allow a walk.

A week earlier in a 2-1 victory over Stanford, Gray walked four in six innings, including three straight in the second inning as he walked in the only run he allowed. He opened the season with two walks in 4.1 innings. All three runs he allowed were in a single inning, which means he has yet to allow a run in multiple innings of any of his games this season.

“It’s not something that I wish would happen or that I like doing,” Gray said of the bad inning following the Stanford game. “I just have to … stay focused, and if I walk a guy or if they get a hit or something like that, then I have to be able to fight through.”

His outing against Brown was the most dominant performance by a Commodores pitcher since David Price struck out 17 in 2007. Gray allowed just two hits in all and did not allow a base runner after the sixth inning.

He enters the week tied for the SEC lead with 27 strikeouts.

His next scheduled start is 4 p.m. Friday, the first of a three-game series at home with Illinois-Chicago.

The Commodores (14-1), who fell from second to third in the lastest ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, also host Wofford (4 p.m. Tuesday) and Kennesaw State (4 p.m. Wednesday) this week.