Home runs carry MTSU past Vanderbilt in NCAA regional

Friday, May 29, 2009 at 5:51pm
Staff reports

LOUISVILLE – Mike Minor allowed two home runs, including a first-inning grand slam, and Vanderbilt lost 5-4 to Middle Tennessee State in the first game of the NCAA baseball tournament’s Louisville Regional on Friday.

The Commodores had the bases loaded with two out in the ninth following a lead-off double by Jonathan White, a one-out walk by Curt Casali and two-out walk by Andrew Giobbi. Jason Esposito, who drove in two runs earlier, grounded into a game-ending fielder’s choice.

Vanderbilt (34-26) never led and lost its NCAA tournament opener for the second straight year.

After a pair of one-out singles in the first, Minor walked Rawley Bishop and then gave up the grand slam to junior right fielder Stuart Meinhart. The Blue Raiders (44-16) did not score again until Taylor Dennis hit a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh.

Minor pitched a complete game and allowed just six hits over the final seven innings. He struck out seven and walked four.

Three of Vanderbilt’s runs came on groundouts, all after the Commodores twice had runners on second and third with nobody out.

In the top of the eighth, Westlake scored on Esposito’s groundball to shortstop, and Giobbi came home when pinch hitter Jordan Wormsley grounded out to second. Giobbi drove in VU’s first run with a fourth-inning ground ball to second, which allowed Casali to score.

Esposito also had an RBI single in the fourth.

Westlake was 3-for-4, including a double, with two runs scored. Joe Loftus was 2-for-3 before Wormsley replaced him.

The loss dropped Vanderbilt into an elimination contest 2 p.m. (CDT) Saturday against Indiana.

MTSU will face Louisville at approximately 6 p.m. (CDT).