Vanderbilt 39, Tennessee 5; think of it as a measure of revenge for Tennessee 24, Vanderbilt 10 or Tennessee 67, Vanderbilt 64.
The Diamond 'Dores exacted vengeance on their in-state rivals after football and basketball season put Vandy in a 3-0 hole against UT in 2010-2011. The Volunteers didn't come within 9 runs of the Commodores all weekend, as Vanderbilt put up more than twice as many runs in the sixth inning Sunday (11) than Tennessee scored all weekend (five). In short, it was the cathartic beatdown that every fan at Hawkins Field had hoped it would be.
Tennessee only led once, for half an inning, all weekend. The Commodores cranked out 49 hits, somehow eclipsing last week's mark of 45 against LSU. Aaron Westlake and Connor Harrell combined to club five home runs while Vandy's starters limited the Vols to just 14 hits in 19.2 innings of work. The wins improved Vanderbilt to 38-5 overall and 17-4 in conference play, keeping the team in a three-way tie atop the Southeastern Conference with South Carolina and Florida.
Game 1 - Vanderbilt 10, Tennessee 1: Sonny Gray pitched eight solid innings to earn his ninth win of the season and Vanderbilt broke open a 2-1 game with eight runs in the final three innings to win Friday's opener against Tennessee. Gray didn't allow a hit in his final six innings of work and got all the support he needed when Aaron Westlake blasted a solo home run in the fourth inning in front of a sellout crowd. Harrell added a two-run shot in the eighth to cap the scoring for Vanderbilt.
Game 2 - Vanderbilt 10, Tennessee 1: Every starter recorded at least one hit as the 'Dores continued their dominance over Tennessee on Saturday. Aaron Westlake and Jason Esposito combined for seven hits in 10 at-bats, including two Westlake dingers. Grayson Garvin struck out six while walking no batters to improve to 9-1 on the season.
Game 3 - Vanderbilt 19, Tennessee 3: Vandy jumped out to a 8-0 lead after three innings and padded that with an 11-run sixth inning that earned this game the Twitter hashtag #NashvilleMassacre. The Commodores sent 17 batters to the plate in the inning, including five pinch hitters as Coach Corbin emptied his bench due to the rout. 10 players had RBIs for Vandy, including four from Curt Casali and three each from Esposito and Sam Lind. Taylor Hill pitched six shutout innings to earn the win and reduce his ERA to 3.03.
AoG's prestigious batting and pitching awards are after the jump.
The Henry Rowengartner Hot-Ice Excellence in Pitching Award Goes to...
Garvin/Gray/Hill. All three starters pitched well against UT, with no one performance rising above the rest. Gray's no-hit performance in innings three through eight against the Vols was solid, but Garvin's 6:0 K:BB ratio and Hill's six innings of shutout ball are equally impressive. Let's look at what these guys combined for, though: 19.2 innings, 14 hits, 18 strikeouts, five walks, two earned runs. It may have only been against Tennessee, but that's a scary line for anyone who is scouting the 'Dores for an upcoming series.
The Clu Haywood "How's your wife and my kids?" Destroyer of Pitchers Award Goes to...
Connor Harrell...and everyone else. Harrell wins thanks to an explosive performance in limited innings that should get him back on track as a starting outfielder, but pretty much everyone on the team was qualified for the honor this week. Tony Kemp scored six runs and stole a base. Anthony Gomez tallied six hits. Jason Esposito batted 8-15 with 5 RBI. Brian Harris's little brother got in on the action with a two-RBI single. Aaron Westlake hit team-leading 7th, 8th, and 9th home runs.
Harrell gets the nod this week thanks to his efficiency. The big sophomore had just four at-bats but produced three hits, five RBI, and three runs. Harrell crushed two home runs and appears to have shaken off what had been a season-long slump with the performance. With Joe Loftus out with a broken hamate bone, the 'Dores will be counting on him to step up in the outfield as the season wears on.
So, there's your recap. Award winners can pick up their custom-made AoG plaques at our headquarters located in one of Pakistan's most affluent suburbs. Vanderbilt rocked the Volunteers and swung some respect back to Nashville after disappointing results in football and basketball this season. However, the sweep only means that the 'Dores kept pace in the SEC, as Florida and South Carolina each dispatched their opponents with relative ease.
Vandy will have to stock up on wins this week as they'll face bottom-dwelling Kentucky before making playing Louisville, Florida, and Georgia over a seven game span. That means they'll be matched against a solid cross-conference rival (UL) before playing the country's #4 team and then the SEC's #4 team. The Wildcats give the 'Dores an easier matchup than anyone else they'll play for the rest of the season (except possibly a #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament), but they'll have to get the sweep just to be safe and to secure their bid for a national #1 seed.
None this week.