NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tony Kemp showed why he was named SEC Player of the Year. And Vanderbilt showed why it’s one of the favorites to win the NCAA tournament.
Kemp had four hits and caused all sorts of problems with his speed as the Commodores took control late in a 10-4 win against Illinois on Saturday night.
The Illini (35-19), who wasted a 4-2 lead, will take on Georgia Tech at 2 p.m. today in an elimination game. Whoever wins that game gets another shot at Vanderbilt, the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament, at 7 p.m. today.
Vanderbilt, which scored five runs in the eighth inning, got to six Illinois pitchers for 17 hits.
Brandon Hohl had two hits for Illinois, seeking its first regional title.
A controversial call didn’t help the Illini’s cause Saturday.
Illinois appeared to have tied the game at 5 in the fifth when Michael Hurwitz scored on a throwing error by Vanderbilt catcher Spencer Navin. But the home plate umpire ruled the Illini batter, Hohl, interfered with Navin’s throw to second base in an attempt to throw out Justin Parr, who was trying to steal second. Hohl’s strikeout and the catcher’s interference call resulted in an inning-ending double play.
The Illini got to Vanderbilt starter Tyler Beede early. Thomas Lindauer tripled to lead off the first and scored on Justin Parr’s groundout. In the third, Jordan Parr’s sacrifice fly and Hohl’s single put Illinois ahead 3-2. In the fourth, Davis Hendrickson scored on a wild pitch.
Beede came in 14-0 with a 2.10 ERA.
The Commodores improved to 33-4 at Hawkins Field.
In Saturday’s elimination game, Buck Farmer and Jonathan Roberts combined on a three-hitter, leading Georgia Tech to a 5-1 win against East Tennessee State.
The right-handed duo combined for 12 strikeouts and retired 11 straight batters during one stretch. Farmer (9-4) allowed two singles and struck out eight in six innings. He did not return after a lightning delay lasted 1 hour, 48 minutes in the seventh inning.
Roberts finished the game to pick up his second save despite allowing an unearned run in the ninth.
Brad Thomas and Mott Hyde each had two hits and drove in a run for Georgia Tech (35-26).
ETSU starter Kerry Doane (13-2) lost for the first time since March 16.