Pecoraro, Vanderbilt get the best of pitching duel with Ole Miss

Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 11:00pm

With base runners few and far between against Ole Miss right-hander Bobby Wahl, Vanderbilt made nearly every one count.

Meanwhile, T.J. Pecoraro gave the Rebels even less to work with.

It added up to a 3-0 victory for the Commodores as pitched Vanderbilt’s first complete-game shutout in nearly two years and against a top 25 opponent no less (Ole Miss is No. 23) Thursday night at Hawkins Field.

With two games remaining in the series and the regular season, Vanderbilt (27-25, 14-14) is assured of no worse than a .500 record when it enters the postseason.

“Expecting a shutout off Ole Miss I think you’re expecting way too much,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “That was just a very well-pitched game. To me Ole Miss is one of the best teams in this conference.”

The teams mustered just eight hits combined in a game that lasted two hours, 11 minutes. Wahl (6-2) had a no-hitter through five innings and allowed two earned runs on just three hits — all in the sixth.

But Pecoraro (1-4) was even better as he went the distance for the second straight game. The lefty used 102 pitches to scatter five hits, strike out three and walk none in the longest outing of his career.

Richie Goodenow threw the last Vanderbilt complete-game shutout on June 6, 2010 in an NCAA Regional against Louisville.

“Something kind of clicked and I’m going with it,” Pecoraro said. “It’s always tough coming out here, playing against the best competition in the country. When I get a win, I’ll take it.”

It was Pecoraro’s first win since May 20, 2011 — five days before he suffered a season-ending elbow injury during a Freshman All-American campaign. He recovered quicker than expected and made his first appearance in March, just nine months after Tommy John surgery.

“He is certainly more comfortable. He is more advanced,” Corbin said. “It’s something to see that a year from this coming Wednesday when the injury occurred that he’s already back and he’s pitched the way he has. I just think he’s starting to get more rhythm. Now we’re starting to see a kid who is feeling comfortable and developing. There is a lot more to come.”

Entering the game with the conference's second lowest ERA (2.18), Wahl looked sharp, retiring the first 10 batters.

Mike Yastrzemski took advantage of his first mistake when he walked in the fourth inning. He quickly stole second and third and scored on a slow-rolling groundout by Anthony Gomez.

Insurance came in the sixth when Vince Conde broke up the no-hitter with a leadoff double off the leftfield wall. He later scored on an error by shortstop Blake Newalu and Gomez singled home another run.

The Commodores have won eight of 10 and sit in a four-way tie for sixth in the SEC. Last week, they locked up a spot in the 10-team SEC Tournament, which begins Tuesday in Hoover, Ala.

If they sweep Ole Miss (34-20, 14-14), they’re guaranteed to come out of the double-elimination tournament with a winning record — a requirement for an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament.

“Obviously this is a huge series for us,” Gomez said. “Winning on Thursday is a real notch under your belt and you kind of relax. But you’ve still got to attack them.”