Vanderbilt Downs Oregon St. To Sweep Nashville Super Regional

Vanderbilt's Aaron Westlake (36) is greeted by teammates after hitting one of his three two run home runs that powered the Commodores past Oregon St. 9-3, ending the Beavers' season in the NCAA Super Regionals. (Photo by Alan Pozier - The Tennessean)

Final Score: Vanderbilt 9 Oregon St. 3

Three Aaron Westlake two run home runs, one in the first inning, another in the sixth, which broke open what had been a close game until that point, and a third in what was probably his last appearance at the plate in Nashville for the Commodores, powered Vanderbilt past Oregon St. to their first ever NCAA Super Regional series win, and a trip to Omaha, for the College World Series.

Both teams failed to capitalize on a couple of opportunities apiece to blow the game open in the middle portion of the game, getting 1 and no runs out of situations with multiple runners in scoring position. Both teams left 11 runners on base, so both teams had their chances. But eventually it was the Commodores and not the Beavers that got the clutch hits to take control.

Vanderbilt (52-10) sent left hander Grayson Garvin (13-1, 2.37 coming into the game), a first round pick in this past week's Major League Baseball draft, to the mound, while Oregon St (41-19) settled on left hander Ben Wetzler (6-3, 4.66 starting the night), out of a pool of four freshmen Oregon St. head coach Pat Casey and pitching coach Nate Yeski considered. Josh Osich, the Beavers' usual Saturday starter out for the weekend with both back problems and tendonitis in his throwing shoulder.

The temperature was near 90 at Hawkins Field, with a threat of thunderstorms in the area, as game time approached, making the possibility of a weather delay like those that delayed games in Virginia and North Carolina a possibility.

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Wetzler retired leadoff hitter Tony Kemp, but Anthony Gomez singled to right to get Vanderbilt started, and Westlake, who walked the first three times he came up in the series opener, promptly homered over the fence in right center to put the Commodores up 2-0.

Wetzler got Curt Casali to ground out, and Mike Yastrzemski lifted a pop fly to Ryan Dunn to end the games' first at bat, but Vanderbilt had Oregon St. down before the Beavers ever picked up a bat.

Ryan Barnes flied out to Yastrzemski in right field, but Brian Stamps fought off several foul balls to draw a walk. Ryan Dunn's grounder wiped out Stamps at second, but what would have been a double play ball was dropped by first baseman Westlake. Kavin Keyes followed with a grounder to Gomez at short that Gomez couldn't handle, and the error set up Parker Berberet, who drove Dunn in with an RBI single to center. Andrew Susac struck out, but the Beavers were back within a run, down 2-1 going to the second inning.

Wetzler got his first strike out against Jason Esposito, but Conrad Gregor followed with a double down the right field line. Connor Harrell eventually struck out against the slow working Wetzler, and Riley Reynolds' fly ball to Stamps erased the Commodores' threat.

Carter Bell belted a leadoff double for the Beavers, but Jake Rodriguez, the only thorn in the Commodores' side Friday night, couldn't move Bell over with a ground out to third base. Garrett Nash struck out, and Barnes popped up a bunt, however, which Garvin grabbed to get out of trouble.

Kemp flew out, but Gomez singled to start the third inning. Wetzler was more careful with Westlake the second time around, and got a strikeout for his efforts. He got another against Casali to end the inning.

Stamps bunted and beat it out to lead off the Beavers' half of the third, and Dunn walked, bringing out the Vanderbilt pitching coach.

Garvin mishandled Keyes' bunt, loading the bases, and Berberet's RBI fly to right tied the game at 2-2, as Yastrzemski had no chance to get Stamps.

Susac struck out looking, and Bell grounded out, and Oregon St. got only one run after loading the bases with no outs, missing a golden opportunity to take a measure of control of the game.

Berberet hit Yastrzemski with the first pitch of the fourth inning, but followed up with a strikeout of Esposito. Gregor's single to right moved Yastrzemski to third, and a walk to Harrell loaded the bases.

Harrell lined out to Dunn at short though, and Kemp's grounder to Rodriguez got the Beavers out of a jam, and the Commodores had their own missed opportunity.

Rodriguez lined a full-count pitch to Harrell in center, but Nash was able to single to left. Nash was thrown out stealing though, even though he got his hand in under the high tag. Barnes subsequently singled, but Stamps couldn't move him, and Vanderbilt had avoided any harm from allowing a pair of runners to reach base.

Scott Schultz took over for Wetzler in the fifth inning with the score tied at 2-2, and Gomez promptly doubled into the corner in left field on the first pitch he saw.

Westlake drew a walk on 4 pitches, and Casali's sacrifice moved the runners up. Yastrzemski got ahead in the count, and the Beavers decided to walk him to load the bases.

Esposito's blooper to shallow left produced a collision, and neither Dunn nor Nash could get the ball. Stamps threw Yastrzemski out at second, but Gomez scored to put Vanderbilt back ahead 3-2, and Dunn stayed down. Dunn was eventually able to get up, and continued.

Schultz struck out Gregor to get out of trouble, with Oregon St. down just 3-2 in the middle of the fifth.

Dunn proved he was ok with a leadoff double off the wall in left. Keyes' shot to left was just a fly out, though. Berberet walked, and that was the end of the night for Garvin.

Right hander Will Clinard took over for Garvin, and threw a wild pitch in the dirt, advancing both Dunn and Berberet. Susac walked, loading the bases, but Bell struck out, and Rodriguez popped up, and the Beavers continued the pattern both teams were struggling with, of squandering opportunities to seize control of the game.

Harrell singled to right, and moved to second when Barnes slid and couldn't come up with the ball to lead off the sixth, and moved on to third on Reynolds' sacrifice bunt. Kemp walked, putting runners on the corners, bringing out Yeski for a conference.

Kemp took second on a fake bunt, allowing Gomez's hit to center scored both Harrell and Kemp, putting the Commodores up 5-2.

Yeski lifted Schultz for Matt Boyd, but Westlake drove his second two run home run of the night, and the first one Boyd allowed all year, over the field in right center, making it 7-2 Vanderbilt.

Westlake, a product of Shasta High in Redding, CA, one who got away from not only the Beavers, but the whole Pac-10, was one of the difference makers in the game and the series.

Casali flew out to right, and Yastrzemski popped up to Bell to finally end the four run inning.

Nash, Barnes, and Stamps were all put out by Westlake at first, in the first 1-2-3 inning of the game.

Boyd then dispatched Esposito, Gregor, and Harrell on fly balls for another 1-2-3 inning, as the wind whipped up, holding balls hit to left field in the park.

Clinard got Dunn to ground out, Keyes to strike out, and Berberet to pop up, and suddenly, after so many base runners for both teams, 11 consecutive hitters had been put out.

A great play by Dunn appeared to throw out Reynolds, but catchers' interference on Susac negated the effort, putting Reynolds on first. Kemp's drag bunt put runners on first and second, but Boyd got a double play ball.

Westlake received a standing ovation beginning his last career plate appearance at Hawkins field, and his curtain call was his third two run homer of the evening.

Boyd hit Casali with a pitch, but Yastrzemski then grounded out to end the inning. The Commodores had a trip to Omaha in the bag with a 9-2 lead though.

After Susac struck out, Bell blasted a home run to left center, in what might be his last at bat for Oregon St. should he sign with the Arizona Diamond Backs.

Danny Hayes hit for Rodriguez, who was 0 for 3 tonight, after going 3 for 3 last night, but struck out. Jared Norris, a senior, got his last at bat for the Beavers, hitting for Nash, and got hit by a pitch.

Michael Miller, another senior, hit for Barnes, but struck out, and Vanderbilt moved to within one inning of the win, leading 9-3.

Adam Duke took over to throw the ninth inning for the Beavers, and Miller and Norris stayed in to play right field and first base, and Tyler Smith came in at second base.

Dunn threw out Esposito, but Duke walked Gregor, before striking out Harrell. Reynolds singled to center, and Vanderbilt had runners on the corners again. Duke hit Kemp with a pitch to load the bases, but Gomez grounded out to avoid an opportunity for Westlake to take one last swing for the fences.

Amid warnings of impending thunderstorm activity, Stamps singled, and Dylan Jones hit for Dunn, but flied out to left, as the NCAA attempted to get the game completed before having to suspend it. Keyes struck out, and Berberet did too to end the game, and the Beavers' season, and send Vanderbilt to Omaha.

Vanderbilt became the second team to advance to Omaha, joining North Carolina, who defeated Stanford 7-5 earlier in the evening, as the Pac-10 saw two of four teams eliminated from the Super Regionals today.

“We just left some balls in the middle of the plate to the wrong guy on a couple of occasions,” Casey said afterwards, referring to Westlake. “But that doesn’t have anything to do with his power; he’s just a tremendous hitter. You could have done that to the guy in the 9 hole, and maybe given up a double. But if you give it up to one of the best hitters in the country, it’s not the best guy to make mistakes with.”

Arizona St. also lost, 5-1 at Texas, and the Sun Devils face a deciding third game against the Longhorns tomorrow.

California, the conference's fourth entrant in the Super Regionals, defeated Dallas Baptist 7-0, in a series the Bears are hosting, but at Santa Clara University, to take a 1-0 lead in that matchup.

Clinard actually went further than Garvin, and got the win, improving his record to 2-2, while Schultz (4-1) took his first loss of the season, in the three and a half hour marathon.

Berberet drove in 2 of the 3 Beaver runs, and Susac and Stamps both had two hits, half of Oregon St.'s total of 8.

Gomez had 4 of the Commodore's 12 hits, and 2 RBIs, to go with Westlake's 3 hit, 3 HR, 6 RBI performance, quite a performance for Vanderbilt's 2-3 hitters.

The Beavers, who advanced to Omaha three times after winning a Super Regional at home, can look to their late season skid, in which they lost 5 straight games, and 6 of 7, and also some other costly losses, including getting swept by Fresno St., as costing them the chance to host a Super Regional, sending them instead to Nashville, as a contributing factor to an earlier end to their season than they might have hoped for.

The Commodores outplayed the Beavers both games, and established themselves as an offensive threat, not just a team with a solid pitching staff, in Omaha.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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