Nashville, Tenn. – The Brown baseball team opened the 2011 season on Friday against the No. 2 team in the nation, Vanderbilt (10-2). The Bears (0-1) got seven strong innings from senior pitcher Matthew Kimball (Nashville, Tenn.), who was impressive in his homecoming performance, limiting the Commodores to just one run, but a two-run eighth inning gave the win to Vandy, 3-1.
Vanderbilt's offense struck first in the bottom of the second, taking an early 1-0 lead. The Commodores started the inning off with a single and a walk to get two on and then used a sacrifice bunt to advance both of the runners. A groundout to short allowed the runner from third to score, but Kimball was able to work out of further damage, getting a flyout on the next batter to end the inning.
Not only did the Bears face one of the top teams in the country, they also squared off against one of the top pitchers. Preseason All-American junior Sonny Gray, who has played for Team USA, set a career-high with 15 strikeouts in a complete game performance.
Despite the electric stuff from Gray, The Bears were able to get to the Vanderbilt pitcher in the top of the fifth. Senior Pete Greskoff (Paoli, Pa.), was able to get on base after a third strike went wild, allowing him to run down to first. Junior Mike DiBiase (Weston, Mass.) followed with a single through the right side, which set the table for senior Ryan Zrenda (Old Lyme, Conn.). The fourth-year third baseman came through with a single to left field to plate Greskoff and tie the game at one.
Both pitchers continued to duel into the seventh until Kimball handed it over to the bullpen. The Commodores immediately took advantage of the new pitchers, leading off the bottom of the eighth inning with a double. An intentional walk and a reach on error loaded them up for Vandy. A single up the middle by Anthony Gomez plated two and put the Commodores up.
The three-game series continues tomorrow afternoon as the Bears take on the Commodores at 3 p.m. EST. The final game down in Nashville is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m.
Pictured Above: senior pitcher Matt Kimball; photo provided by Dave Silverman