Vanderbilt used aggressive baserunning and a season-high eight stolen bases to open their NCAA Tournament with a win Friday afternoon, dispatching UNC-Wilmington 8-2. The Commodores never trailed in a game that saw coach Tim Corbin's patented small-ball attack work to perfection.
Sophomore T.J. Pecoraro was dominant on the mound, allowing just two runs (on a home run) and striking out eight batters in 7.2 innings of work. He was supported by a Commodore team that got hits in bunches and took advantage of Seahawk mistakes all day. Vandy started the scoring with a two-out, two-run rally in the third inning and then pushed that lead to an eventual 8-0 edge.
That deluge included a double-steal on a pickoff play that led to the 'Dores second steal of home in less than one week. With runners on the corners, Wilmington catcher Drew Farber attempted to gun Anthony Gomez at first after a pitch. Tony Kemp, leading off from third, took that opportunity to come home. His slide beat the tag, putting the 'Dores up 6-0 and stealing the wind from the Seahawks' sails.
With the win, Vandy will face the winner of North Carolina State and Sacred Heart, who play later today. The 'Dores got clutch performances on the mound, on the basepaths, and at the plate to win on Friday. They'll need to keep that up if they want to continue their run through a tough Regional down in North Carolina.