College baseball: San Diego holds off No. 7 Vanderbilt 3-2 in opener
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- The Toreros knocked off No. 7 Vanderbilt 3-2 to open the 2017 season Thursday evening at Fowler Park. Going against preseason All-American pitcher Kyle Wright, the Toreros scored three runs in the first three innings and then held on for the big win. Vanderbilt had the tying run on third base in the ninth inning, but Troy Conyers struck out the final batter to seal the victory.
"It's a great victory any time you can beat a team like Vanderbilt and a guy like Kyle Wright," Head Coach Rich Hill said after the game. "I felt like our guys had great energy and didn't back down. It was just a great night and I'm really proud of our guys."
Vanderbilt wasted no time; leading off the game with a Jeren Kendall triple down the right field. Kendall came in to score two batters later on a Will Toffey sacrifice fly to center; despite a strong throw from Torero center fielder Colton Waltner.
In a matchup of preseason All-Americans, Riley Adams took Kyle Wright deep to left field to lead off the second inning, tying the game at 1-1.
The Commodores retook the lead in the top of the third inning. After striking out the leadoff batter, Nick Sprengel gave up a single and a walk to put runners on first and second. Then Toffey struck again; this time with a RBI single to left. Sprengel escaped further trouble by striking out Alonzo Jones with the bases loaded.
The Toreros immediately responded to take the lead. Jeff Houghtby tripled to left to bring home Jordan Abushahla and then came around to score on a Colton Waltner infield single, giving USD a 3-2 lead.
Sophomore Paul Richan came in relief in the sixth inning and pitched 1.2 scoreless innings to bridge the gap to closer Troy Conyers.
Conyers retired the first four batters he faced, but then ran into trouble in the ninth inning. After a leadoff walk and a single, Vandy's Jeren Kendall tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but popped it up behind the plate. Riley Adamscaught it in foul territory and fired down to second base to finish the double play.
After a tough grounder up the middle, the Commodores had the tying run on third base with two outs. Conyers struck out Toffey swinging to end the game and give the big lefty a 2.1 inning save.
Congrats to my guys @USDbaseball taking down Vandy to open up the season!— Kris Bryant (@KrisBryant_23) February 17, 2017
Nick Sprengel (1-0) struck out nine batters in five innings, giving up just two earned runs on five hits to earn the win.
"Nick was on top of his game," Coach Hill remarked. "He really showed how good his off speed stuff is."
Vandy's Kyle Wright (0-1) allowed three earned runs in five innings, coming out after 81 pitches.
"The highlight of the night is Riley Adams," Coach Hill praised. "All eyes were on him as a first team preseason All-American with over 30 scouts here and he hits a bomb and almost hits another one and then throws a missle to second base to double up Vandy [in the ninth inning]."
The Toreros continue their series against Vanderbilt Friday at 2:00 p.m., which was originally scheduled for 6:00 p.m.