Sonny Gray delivered six solid innings on the mound, Curt Casali continued his recent tear and Vanderbilt kept its season alive, defeating Florida State 6-2 in the second game of the NCAA Tallahassee Super Regional on Saturday.
The Commodores bounced back after a devastating 9-8 loss in the opener on Friday to win their first Super Regional contest in four tries. They are now just one win away from reaching the first College World Series in school history. They’ll have a chance to punch their ticket to Omaha, Neb. on Sunday, when they again play Florida State in a winner-take-all third game at noon (CDT) at Dick Howser Stadium.
Vanderbilt’s ace Gray did enough to keep the Florida State bats at bay. The right-hander scattered seven hits, struck out three, stranded seven runners and allowed just two runs.
He got some help, though, in the sixth inning. After loading the bases with two outs and with Vanderbilt up 3-1, Gray surrendered a single to Rafael Lopez. That drove in one run but Jayce Boyd was gunned down by right fielder Joe Loftus to keep the game-tying run from scoring and end the inning.
In the eighth, with Vanderbilt still holding onto a one-run lead, Casali provided another big hit. The designated hitter launched a one-out double off the top of the right-field wall to knock in Anthony Gomez. In two Super Regional games, Casali is 6-for-9 with three doubles, a home run and four RBI.
After a Florida State pitching change, Vanderbilt scored twice more in the inning on a squeeze bunt by Andrew Giobbi and a two-out single by Mike Yastrzemski. Reliever Grayson Garvin closed out the game. The lefty relieved Gray in the seventh and pitched three scoreless innings.
Vanderbilt scored first, plating two in the bottom of the first. After Brian Harris and Anthony Gomez reached on two Florida State errors, Aaron Westlake drove in Harris on a sharp hit groundout to the shortstop. Then, with two outs, Casali doubled to right center on the first pitch. The blast off the wall knocked in Gomez to give the Commodores an early 2-0 lead. Jason Esposito added another run when he hit a solo shot in the third for his second home run in as many days.
The Seminoles finally scored in the fifth. Boyd homered to right field to lead off the inning. It was just the fourth home run that Gray has allowed this season as he improved to 10-5.
SUPER REGIONAL SCHEDULE/RESULTS
Vanderbilt (46-19) vs. Florida State (46-18)
(at Howser Stadium, in Tallahassee, Fla. all times CDT)
Friday: Florida State 9, Vanderbilt 8
Saturday: Vanderbilt 6, Florida State 2
Sunday: Noon (ESPN)