Vanderbilt lit up the base paths and overwhelmed UNC-Wilmington in a NCAA Regional opening victory.
The Commodores set school record with eight stolen bases and utilized its familiar small ball approach in a 8-2 win over the Seahawks on Friday in Raleigh, N.C.
Vanderbilt (34-26), the No. 2 seed, advances in the double-elimination regional to play the North Carolina State-Sacred Heart winner at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Against third-seeded UNC-Wilmington (38-22), the Commodores never trailed and held an eight-run lead after six innings. The offensive flurry was jumpstarted with a two-run third inning. Mike Yastrzemski doubled with two outs and scored on a single by Anthony Gomez, who scored on a throwing error.
Then, in the fourth, they really put on the pressure. Despite just one hit, Vanderbilt scored four runs thanks to five stolen bases, two walks, a sacrifice bunt, a sacrifice fly and a throwing error by UNC-Wilmington.
Tony Kemp capped off the scoring by stealing home after Kelly Secrest threw over to first in a pickoff attempt of Gomez. Kemp slid underneath the tag and Gomez broke for second to complete the double steal. Last Saturday, against Florida in the SEC Tournament, Gomez stole home to spark a triple steal.
T.J. Pecoraro (2-4) kept the Seahawks bats quiet, allowing just two runs on six hits in 7 2/3 innings. The right-hander matched a career-high with eight strikeouts and didn’t allow a run until the seventh. Freshman Brian Miller finished the game as the side-armed right-hander allowed one hit in 1 1/3 innings.
Gomez drove in three runs and the shortstop was one of three Commodores with two hits (Riley Reynolds and Yastrzemski).
Vanderbilt improved to 17-4 in its last 21 games and has won seven straight NCAA Regional games dating back to 2010.