Baseball Loses Series-Opener At No. 2 Vanderbilt, 5-1
March 11, 2011
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - No. 2 Vanderbilt's Curt Casali belted a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning which proved to be the difference on Friday as the Commodores beat the UIC baseball team, 5-1, at Charles Hawkins Field.
The bats went cold for the Flames (3-8) in Nashville as they collected only four hits in the ballgame with two of those coming in the final frame.
The game started as an outstnading pitcher's duel between starting pitchers Matt Salemi (0-2) and Sonny Gray (4-0). Each hurler yielded only one hit through the five innings. Joe Betcher got the first hit of the game for the Flames in the top of the third inning with a one-out single to left field. The first baseman moved to second base on Jacob McNamara's sacrifice bunt, but Gray worked out of the jam by striking out UIC's Steve McGuiggan.
Matt Salemi took his no-hitter into the bottom of the fourth inning. Conrad Gregor recorded the first hit of the game for Vanderbilt (14-1) with a base hit to right field off Salemi in the with two away, but he would be stranded there after the right-hander induced a ground out to third baseman Jason Ganek off the bat of Curt Casali to end the mild threat.
The Commodores got the offense rolling in the bottom of the sixth inning as they tagged Salemi for four runs. It was Casali who delivered the big blow with a grand slam down the left field line. Gregor, Jason Esposito and Aaron Westlake also scored on the play.
Salemi left the game after that inning. He went 6.0 IP, surrendered four runs on six hits while striking out three Vanderbilt batters on the afternoon. Gray's afternoon was finished after 7.0 IP. The reigning Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week allowed just two hits and no runs while fanning nine Flames batters in the process.
Chris Hoffman relieved Salemi with a scoreless inning of work, his fifth such appearance in his young UIC career.
Eric Wyman was touched up for a run in the bottom of the eighth. After issuing a lead-off walk to Casali, the catcher would eventually come around to score on a passed ball by McNamara with Jason Ganek now on the mound. Ganek hit pinch hitter Sam Lind with a pitch, but the closer fanned Mike Yastrezemski to end the inning.
In the top of the ninth, the Flames scratched across their first run of the game to avoid being shut out for the first time since 2011. With two away, Matt Serna hit a double to left center field. Alex De LaRosa then singled to left field to allow Serna to score, but that was all the offense UIC could muster.
With the single in the ninth, De LaRosa extended his team-best hitting streak to a season-long six games.
Serna was the only Flames hitter to post a multi-hit effort on Friday, his third such performance this season. The Arlington Heights, Ill. native led UIC with 24 multi-hit games last season.
The non-conference series continues with game two on Saturday at 2 p.m. Reigning Horizon League Pitcher of the Week Matt Heaslip (1-1, 5.40 ERA) will take the ball for UIC. He will be opposed by Vanderbilt's Grayson Garvin (2-1, 3.26 ERA).