Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vandy mercy rules Georgia 10-0, with Pecoraro and Ziomek combining on 1-hitter

Vanderbilt's Tony Kemp (6) congratulates Jason Esposito (22) as he comes home after hitting a home run in the third inning in the SEC baseball tournament at Region's Park Wednesday May 25, 2011 in Hoover, Ala.
HOOVER, Alabama -- With three national Pitcher of the Year candidates to choose from in the SEC Tournament opener, Tim Corbin opted to throw Georgia the proverbial curve ball. He went with spot starter T.J. Pecoraro who was, typically, spot on.
For 3-plus innings, Pecoraro was nearly unhittable. But when he felt something amiss in his throwing arm while working the fourth, it looked like Corbin's strategy had gone asunder.
Instead, he went from spot on to lights out. Kevin Ziomek relieved Pecoraro and was even better
Vanderbilt, seeded fourth but ranked second nationally by USA Today/ESPN and NCBWA, mercy-ruled Georgia 10-0 in 7 innings Wednesday night. The Commodores (45-9) face South Carolina in Thursday's nightcap while Georgia (28-29) meets Auburn at approximately 12:30.
"When you want to protect your pitching staff, we were fortunate to win the game the way we did," Corbin said.
Vandy led 3-0 when Georgia threatened for the first time in the fourth. One batter reached on a throwing error and another walked. Pecoraro summoned Corbin to the mound after the latter.
"He felt a twinge in his forearm, so as a precautionary measure we took him out."
Doctors will examine Pecoraro, who was 7-0 coming in, this morning. Ziomek, who was happily biding his time on the mound and had to go in cold.
Ziomek wasn't immediately ready, and it showed when he uncorked one wild pitch and walked the first man he faced on four pitches.
"It was difficult," Ziomek admitted. "I felt a little off at first."
He wouldn't feel off for long. He struck out Curt Powell looking and Joey Delmonico swinging, eventually going 3.2 no-hit innings for the win.
"That was the turning point," Corbin said. "Bases loaded and going against back-to-back right-handed hitters. If he doesn't navigate through that, it's a much different game."
The Vanderbilt offense took care of the rest. Leadoff man Tony Kemp had three hits as did veteran third baseman Jason Esposito, who is 7-for-14 since being dropped from cleanup to sixth in the batting order.
"It's all about the team," Esposito said. "And Curtis (Casali, the new cleanup man) is red hot."
Corbin now his two aces ready for the days ahead: Sonny Gray (9-3) in tonight's matchup with South Carolina, in what could be a glimpse of Omaha, and Grayson Garvin (11-1) in Vanderbilt's third game of the tournament. Also available is Navery Moore, another national Pitcher of the Year nominee.

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