NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Fourth-ranked Vanderbilt scored nine times in the opening two frames and rode a dominant start from right-hander Kumar Rocker to a series-clinching 9-3 victory Saturday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores (5-2) received 12 strikeouts from a starting pitcher for third time this week. Rocker (2-0) joined Jack Leiter (Tuesday) and Mason Hickman (Friday) in the feat while limiting the Flames (0-6) to two hits, one run and a walk across six innings.
After Illinois-Chicago grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first, the Commodores pushed across five runs on as many hits in the home half. Vanderbilt sent nine batters to the plate highlighted by a two-run double from Isaiah Thomas, who stretched his hit streak to seven games.
— Vanderbilt Baseball (@VandyBoys) February 22, 2020
The club produced four runs on five hits in the second including three consecutive doubles from Davis, CJ Rodriguez and Austin Martin , respectively, to begin the frame. On the afternoon, the Commodores batted .476 (10-for-21) with runners aboard including .571 (8-for-14) with runners in scoring position.
Martin (3-for-5) scored two runs and led the team in hits. Seven different Commodores logged at least one hit including Parker Noland (2-for-4), Rodriguez (2-for-5), Duvall (2-for-4) and Ray (2-for-4) who finished with two. Justyn-Henry Malloy (1-for-2) recorded a career-best three walks and scored twice.
Illinois-Chicago starter Nick Oliff (0-2) was tagged for nine runs on 11 hits alongside three walks. The right-hander, who faced 29 batters, did not record a strikeout while permitting five doubles in 4.2 innings.
Vanderbilt looks for the three-game sweep at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Commodores will send southpaw Jake Eder (0-0, 5.40 ERA) to the mound. 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.