Clemson, S.C. -- Vanderbilt used a big inning and steady offense to beat St. John's 13-4 in the opening game of the Clemson NCAA Regional on Friday afternoon at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
The Red Storm (42-12) broke up a 1-1 game in the fifth inning with a pair of two-out runs against Commodores' (34-22-1) starter Patrick Raby to take a 3-1 lead. But the Dores answered quickly and loudly in the bottom of the inning with the first seven batters of the inning reaching base, including six straight hits. Back-to-back singles from JJ Bleday and Connor Kaiser flipped the lineup over for leadoff hitter Will Toffey, who lifted his ninth home run of the season out to left-center field to put Vandy back in front to stay. Three more singles, including Julian Infante's RBI-single, chased St. John's All-American starter Sean Mooney. The Dores tacked on two more runs to hang a six-spot on the scoreboard and take a commanding 7-3 lead.
Vanderbilt added two more in the sixth and put the game away in the seventh with four more runs. Jeren Kendall singled in two runs and Infante added two more RBIs to his total with a single up the middle. The VU offense was steady from top to bottom in the win with 10 different Commodores recording hits led by Toffey's four-hit game to match a career-high. The junior finished a triple shy of the cycle, ending with a home run, double and a pair of singles. He matched his career-best with four runs scored and is now 19-for-34 (.559) with 15 RBIs and 13 runs scored over his last seven games since returning from injury. Kendall drove in four runs and Infante collected three RBIs as the top four batters in the VU lineup drove in 10 runs, scored nine and combined to go 11-for-17 (.647) in the win.
Raby earned his 10th win of the season with seven solid innings. The right-hander gave up three runs on six hits with three strikeouts. After giving up two runs in the fifth, he faced the minimum over his final two innings. His 10th win of the season moves him into a tie with Sonny Gray, Jeremy Sowers and Jack Nuismer for the eighth-most wins in a single season at Vanderbilt.
Mooney took the loss for St. John's after giving up a career-high seven runs, six earned, on 10 hits over four-plus innings. The Dores roughed up the Red Storm's bullpen for six runs, five earned, on eight hits over the final four innings. John Valente drove in two runs with two hits to lead St. John's at the plate.
The Commodores now await Clemson. Kyle Wright gets the ball for Vandy tomorrow night at 6 p.m. CT.