NASHVILLE, TN- Vanderbilt defeated Eastern Illinois 12-2 at Hawkins Field Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd to open the NCAA tournament action.
Devin Futrell (W, 8-3) pitched five innings and struck out seven Panthers while holding EIU to an earned run. Thomas Schultz (S, 2) didn’t allow a run the final four frames and recorded five strikeouts while allowing just two hits.
Davis Diaz went 2 for 5 with a home run and two runs. Alan Espinal went 2 for 4 with a double and three RBIs.
The Panthers got off to a good start in the first inning. Eastern Illinois hit a starting triple followed by a double, both to left center, to take a 1-0 lead.
Vanderbilt responded quickly in the bottom half of the first. Enrique Bradfield Jr. scored a single to start the inning and Diaz followed with a double to the corner of left field to put the runners up to second and third with no one out.
RJ Schreck tied the score at 1-1 with a sack fly to bring Bradfield home. Parker Noland then gave Vanderbilt the lead with a right single field that lifted Diaz from second place.
Vanderbilt hit down the third. After Bradfield’s first brace to right center, Diaz hit his ninth homer of the season, a two-run shot from left, to put the Dores ahead 4-1.
The inning continued with two walks and one hit per pitch to load the bases. Troy LaNeve worked another walk to score Noland and Espinal cleared the goals with a brace that brought three more runs to the plate to put Vandy ahead 8-1.
Eastern Illinois scored its second inning of the game thanks to an error in the top of the fifth.
The Commodores were held scoreless until the end of the seventh. Espinal got a first walk on the ball and Jonathan Vastine homered without a doubt to center field to give the Commodores a 10-2 lead. Vastine has five home runs this season, including two in the last five games.
The Commodores missed two more runs on a hit and an error in the bottom of the eighth to win 12-2. Vandy has scored double-digit points in three straight games. Vanderbilt has won 19 of its last 22 regional games at Hawkins Field.
Vanderbilt improves to 42-18. The Commodores will face Oregon at 8 p.m. CT on Saturday. Eastern Illinois drops to 38-20 and will meet Xavier at 2 p.m.