Worth the wait: Vandy gets two Sunday wins

Monday, March 31, 2008 at 1:12am

Vanderbilt needed three days to win a baseball game against Arkansas over the weekend.

For good measure, the Commodores made it two victories.

Finally able to take the field Sunday after a rain-soaked weekend at Hawkins Field, ninth-ranked VU beat the Razorbacks 6-5 in 12 innings, then capped the day with a 6-2 victory in seven innings.

Saturday’s game, delayed nearly five hours, was suspended in the 12th inning and resumed Sunday at noon. Friday’s game was cancelled.

“There was no rhythm to the weekend whatsoever,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “I’ve never had a weekend like this.”

The cancelled game will not be made up, which could work to the Commodores’ advantage or against them. The eight teams with the best winning percentage in league play will advance to the Southeastern Conference Tournament in May.

With threatening clouds still hovering over Nashville on Sunday, Vanderbilt felt fortunate to escape with two wins. It marked VU’s first-ever series victory over Arkansas after losing 11 straight since 1994.

“It took us three days to just finish one game,” VU catcher Shea Robin said. “It was different, but mentally we stayed with it and stayed focused. We didn’t mess around during the rain delays. We were ready to play.”

The Commodores improved to 18-6 overall and 5-3 in SEC play, while Arkansas dropped to 15-11 and 2-6.

Caleb Cotham notched the win in Sunday’s second game, improving to 4-1 by allowing two runs and striking out six batters in three innings of relief.

Cotham, starter Taylor Hill and relievers Drew Hayes and Richie Goodenow – each in their first seasons at Vanderbilt – continually wiggled out of jams. Arkansas left 13 runners on base.

In the first inning, Hill escaped a bases-loaded situation with no outs by popping up Andy Wilkins and striking out Brett Eibner and Jacob House.

Cotham ended the third inning by fanning House with the bases loaded.

In the sixth inning, Goodenow struck out Wilkins and induced Eibner into a groundout with the bases loaded.

“You don’t see that from freshmen very often,” Robin said. “I can’t say enough about

them. They made it easy to catch them.”

With a mostly young and unproven pitching staff, Vanderbilt has no choice but to take its chances in dicey situations.

“That’s all we have, really,” Corbin said. “There’s nothing else we can do. We’re marching first-timers out there. They’re at least throwing strikes.”

Freshman Aaron Westlake led the Commodore offense with two hits and three runs batted in. Robin and Dominic de la Osa each added two hits.

Although Vanderbilt is scheduled to travel to Middle Tennessee on Wednesday, Corbin said Sunday he hopes to schedule a game against a local opponent for Tuesday.

The Commodores have been forced to cancel two games already this season due to rain.

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