Commodores cruise by Illini in Super Regional opener, 13-0


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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Vanderbilt jumped on Illinois early and cruised to a 13-0 win in the Super Regional opener at Illinois Field Saturday night.

The Commodores’ (46-19) offense cranked up in the first inning with five straight Dores reaching base to score three runs before the Illini (50-9) ever stepped to the plate. One-out singles from Rhett Wiseman and Dansby Swanson started the rally with Will Toffey’s bases loaded walk opening the night’s scoring. Bryan Reynolds followed with a RBI-single and Jeren Kendall’s ground out to second base scored Zander Wiel to cap the rally.

Out to the mound with a three-run lead, Vandy starter Carson Fulmer quickly found trouble with back-to-back singles to open the frame. The right-hander, however, responded with a strikeout and a double play to end the threat unscathed. Fulmer battled through the fifth inning dodging trouble before turning in his only clean inning in the sixth. A leadoff walk and a pair of wild pitches in the seventh put an Illinois runner on third for the first time since the first inning. Fulmer issued his fifth walk to end his night but freshman Collin Snider picked him up, getting Adam Walton to ground into an inning-ending double play to end the threat. Ryan Johnson worked the final two innings to finish off Vanderbilt’s 13th shutout victory of the season.

The Commodores blew the game open in the fifth inning, scoring four runs on three hits. Toffey worked a leadoff walk and was followed by another Reynolds’ single. Kendall legged out an infield single on a bunt but Illinois starter Kevin Duchene’s throw to first was low and bounced into foul territory allowing Toffey to score. Karl Ellison knocked in a run with a ground out that also moved Kendall over to third. New Illini pitcher Cody Sedlock snagged Tyler Campbell’s ground ball up the middle to catch Kendall between third and home, but the freshman forced a rundown before colliding with Illinois catcher Jason Goldstein to draw an obstruction call and score the run.

The Dores piled on late getting a solo homer from Tyler Campbell in the seventh and a two-run blast from Kendall in the ninth. Kyle Smith chipped in a two-run double in Vandy’s four-run ninth inning. The Commodores have outscored opponents in the NCAA Tournament 49-5, including 34-0 over the last two games. The consecutive shutouts are the first for the Dores since 2013 when the club blanked Evansville and Illinois-Chicago in back-to-back games early in the season.

Fulmer earned the win with 6.1 innings of work, scattering four hits with five strikeouts and five walks to notch his 13th win of the season. His 13 wins move him into a tie for second place on the Vandy single-season wins list with Grayson Garvin (2011). His 23 career wins push him up the list into a tie for fifth-most all-time at Vanderbilt passing former Vandy greats David Price and Mike Minor.

Wiseman and Reynolds led the way with three hits in the win as seven different Commodores combined for 15 hits. Kendall drove in three and Campbell scored three more in Vandy’s fourth straight win.

Duchene took the loss allowing seven runs, four earned, on seven hits over four-plus innings. The lefty was pinned with just his second loss of the season.

The Commodores and Illini play tomorrow night at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.