June 12, 2010

By Bob Ferrante

Special to the NCAA.com

 TALLAHASSEE – A day after Florida State scored nine runs, Vanderbilt pitchers Sonny Gray and Grayson Garvin turned in masterful performances.

And Vanderbilt is now one win from its first College World Series appearance in school history.

Gray pitched six strong innings and Garvin tossed three shutout innings as the Commodores rebounded from an opening-game loss to defeat FSU 6-2 on Saturday in the best-of-three NCAA Division I Baseball Super Regional.

“We had a warrior on the mound to start and a warrior on the mound to finish,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said.

Vanderbilt (46-19) is now 4-0 in elimination games in the last eight days.
The Commodores’ win sets up a winner-take-all Game 3 on Sunday at 1 p.m. (ESPN). Vanderbilt will either be celebrating its biggest win in program history, or FSU will enjoy its 10th trip to the CWS in 20 years.

Right-hander Jack Armstrong (7-3, 4.32 ERA) will start for Vanderbilt, while FSU (46-18) will go with either left-hander John Gast (7-3, 5.61 ERA) or RHP Geoff Parker (4-1, 4.94 ERA).

“Our young men will come out tomorrow and get after it for 27 outs,” FSU coach Mike Martin said. “There is no advantage anymore.”

Maybe. FSU players said the home-field advantage will help. And the Seminoles are also 16-0 on Sundays this season.

On Saturday, Vanderbilt took advantage of two FSU errors to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning and Jason Esposito added a solo home run in the third inning (his 12th homer of the year).

Vanderbilt ace Gray (10-5) kept FSU scoreless through four innings, allowing just two hits. He scattered seven hits in six innings but was effective to the end, throwing 95 mile-per-hour fastballs in the sixth inning when he surpassed the 100-pitch mark.

“He really shut us down,” Martin said.

FSU couldn’t get anything done at the plate until Jayce Boyd led off the fifth inning with a solo home run, his eighth of the season.

The Seminoles added a run with two out in the sixth. Rafael Lopez had a single to right, scoring Stuart Tapley from third base. But Boyd, who attempted to score from second, was thrown out by a strong, accurate throw by right fielder Joe Loftus to catcher Andrew Giobbi.

“I knew it was going to be close,” Boyd said. “The guy made a good throw.”
Said Corbin: “Jake has the best arm in the SEC. Period.”

As a result of Loftus’ throw, Vanderbilt held on to its 3-2 lead. The Commodores tacked on three runs in the eighth inning to put the game away.
Curt Casali went 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs, and Mike Yastrezemski went 2 for 3 with an RBI for Vanderbilt.

James Ramsey, Stephen Cardullo and Rafael Lopez each had two hits for FSU.
But the Seminoles’ 1-2-3 hitters – Tyler Holt, Sherman Johnson and Mike McGee – went just 2 for 13 with a pair of singles and no runs or RBIs.

Brian Busch (5-2) allowed three runs on five hits through seven innings. But his throwing error, which followed a ground ball that went through the legs of shortstop Stephen Cardullo, led to Vanderbilt’s first-inning runs.