Nicholas Cole / Gannett.com
NASHVILLE, Tn. - For as disappointing as Friday night’s late-inning struggles may have been, the No. 7 Vanderbilt baseball team showed no ill effects on Saturday.
The Commodores took the final two games of their opening SEC series with No. 8 LSU as part of a doubleheader at Hawkins Field, winning their sixth consecutive series against the Tigers.
Vanderbilt (18-3, 2-1 SEC) won the first game 5-3 behind a solid performance from left-hander Jared Miller and broke out its bats for the second contest, collecting 11 hits in a 9-3 victory.
“I think it was a team rebound, so to speak,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “After a tough loss last night in which Beede really deserved a better fate than what he got, we were able to come back in a situation knowing we were going to play 18 innings and grab the first one. Trying to beat a twice in the same day is very difficult in this conference, but we were able to forge some momentum early (in the second game).”
The second game of the doubleheader was originally scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. but was moved to Saturday evening over concerns about potential inclement weather.
LSU starting pitchers Kyle Bouman and Jared Poche’ made their SEC debuts, and both left Nashville with their first loss of the season.
The Commodores jumped on both left-handers early, tagging Bouman for three runs in the first inning of the first game. Bryan Reynolds doubled in leadoff man Dansby Swanson, and Reynolds scored on a triple in the right center gap off the bat of Zander Wiel. Wiel scored on a sacrifice fly by Rhett Wiseman.
“Bouman goes out there and uncharacteristically walks the lead off batter and then he gets ahead. It seemed like he had two strikes on just about every batter after that,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “They just did a really good job of fighting off two-strike pitches and eventually put the ball in play… and the next thing you know we’re down 3-0.”
Bouman threw 41 pitches in that first inning, which Corbin said set the tone for a day in which 18 innings of baseball were to be played.
After giving up a lead-off double, Vanderbilt starter Jared Miller went nearly seven innings without allowing another hit to earn the win.
“Anytime you’re following up a loss, you want to come out and throw the first punch,” Miller said. “I felt like our offense did that today, and the way I felt (on the mound) I thought three was going to be enough.
“I was just trying to pitch deep into the game and set us up for the day. Part of having a doubleheader is that you want to use as few of bullpen guys in the first game as possible.”
The 6-7 junior improved his record to 5-0 by holding the Tigers to just two hits and one run in 6-2/3 innings of work. He struck out two and walked one.
Miller allowed just his second earned run of the season when Cade Scivicque laced a two-out single to left field to score Connor Hale in the seventh inning. That was the last batter Miller faced, as Corbin opted to go with reliever Adam Ravenelle to finish the inning.
Vanderbilt responded with two more runs in the seventh, pushing its lead back out to a 5-1 advantage. Shortstop Vince Conde grounded a two-out single to center field that scored Xavier Turner and Wiseman.
LSU (17-4, 1-2) scored two more in the top of the eighth inning.
Vanderbilt closer Carson Fulmer retired the Tigers in order in the ninth inning to earn his sixth save.
In the second game, Vanderbilt jumped out to another 3-0 lead with a three-run second inning off Poche’. Jason Delay doubled down the left field line to score Conde, and Reynolds followed with a two-RBI single.
The Tigers responded with a run in the third and another in the fourth.
With the bases loaded in the fourth and the Commodores clinging to a 3-2 lead, Corbin pulled starter Tyler Ferguson in favor of freshman Hayden Stone.
Stone struck out LSU’s Tyler Moore to end the threat.
“Hayden makes that call look good because of his ability to get out of the inning against a very proven hitter,” Corbin said. “Moore has had a lot of big hits for LSU and Hayden probably doesn’t even know Moore’s background, which was probably helpful. Sometimes what you don’t know helps you.”
Not only did the freshman get the Commodores out of the jam, but he also earned his first career win by striking out 10 and allowing just one run over 5-1/3 innings of relief.
Vanderbilt extended its lead to 8-2 with a four-run effort in the bottom of the sixth, fueled by an RBI double from Swanson and RBI singles from Reynolds and Turner.