Hickman, Offense Impress

Vanderbilt takes series opener in dominant fashion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Fourth-ranked Vanderbilt put forth its best offensive outing of the early season and rode a masterful performance from right-hander Mason Hickman to a 9-0 victory in the series opener against Illinois-Chicago on Friday night at Hawkins Field.

Hickman (1-0), who reached 200 career strikeouts with his second punchout of the game, matched a career high with 12 strikeouts. The junior scattered three hits across seven scoreless frames while extending his scoreless-inning streak to 17.

Vanderbilt pitching has tossed three consecutive shutouts for the first time since March 15-19, 2011. The Commodores (4-2), who blanked South Alabama twice earlier in the week, have held opponents to a .101 (9-for-89) batting average and .111 (3-for-27) mark with runners aboard during the stretch.

The Commodores collected a season-high 14 hits including three from nine-hole batter Carter Young (3-for-5). The freshman capped Vanderbilt’s four-run fourth with a first-pitch RBI-double. He also jump-started the scoring in the third with a bunt single and reached on a single and scored in the sixth.

Cooper Davis (2-for-4) and Isaiah Thomas (1-for-4) extended their season-best hit streaks to six games. Austin Martin (2-for-5), Ty Duvall (2-for-3) and Parker Noland (2-for-5) were among five Commodores with a multi-hit performance.

Vanderbilt scored in five of its first six innings. Davis swatted the third pitch of the game into right field for his team-best second triple of the season. Defensively, the Dores were error-free for the third consecutive outing after committing nine on opening weekend.

Right-hander Chris McElvain rebounded from a tough outing Sunday, holding the Flames scoreless while permitting a hit and walk. Right-hander Erik Kaiser worked around a walk and fanned two in his second appearance and first since March 6.

Illinois-Chicago starter Jacob Key (0-2) was roughed up to the tune of 13 hits and nine runs across 5.2 innings. Four Flames recorded a hit including Ryan Lin-Peistrup who reached base twice.

Vanderbilt looks for its first three-game series win of the season Saturday with the middle game set for 2 p.m. The matchup can be seen on SEC Network Plus and heard on WNSR 95.9 FM/560 AM. Tickets are available by calling (615) 322-GOLD or by visiting VUCommodores.com.