Experience paid off for Vanderbilt in a game that was not like any it experienced over the weekend.
Four pitchers, including two juniors and a senior, combined for five scoreless innings of relief, and fifth-year senior Andrew Giobbi drove in the winning run as the Commodores defeated Austin Peay 2-1 in 11 innings Tuesday at Hawkins Field.
“We didn’t have many walk-off wins last year,” coach Tim Corbin said. “We were looking for one. And I would say after the weekend where the margin was wide, it was probably good to play a game like this – a tight ballgame.”
Vanderbilt (4-0) scored 46 runs in a three-game, season-opening sweep of Niagara but managed just six hits against four Austin Peay (2-2) pitchers.
Giobbi’s single was VU’s only hit of the final three innings.
“They basically took the bats out of our hands,” Corbin said.
Designated hitter Bryan Johns started the bottom of the 11th with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice and stayed there through an intentional walk and a pop up on the infield. He scored easily on Giobbi’s second hit of the contest when the throw from right field was well off the mark.
“After playing three non-competitive games this weekend it was nice to get in and play against a regional-caliber team like Austin Peay,” Giobbi said.
The Governors scored the game’s first run in the top of the fifth. Vanderbilt finally answered when Riley Reynolds hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.
Back-to-back errors promptly allowed Austin Peay’s leadoff batter in the eighth, Reed Harper, to get to third with nobody out.
Senior Drew Hayes eventually got the first out with a groundball to first base. Richie Goodenow, a fourth-year junior, then came on, got out of that inning and faced two batters in the ninth – he struck out three of four – before he gave way to another fourth-year junior, Russell Brewer. Brewer allowed one hit and struck out three in 2.1 innings.
“I would like to think (the bullpen) is a strength,” Corbin said. “We’ve got some older guys there. We have three seniors coming in, three guys who have been in our program for four years and have kind of seen every scenario that they potentially could be faced with.
“That helps a great deal.”
Particularly since they didn’t face any situations remotely like that one to start the season.