NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- Freshman Jason Esposito had three hits and two RBI and Aaron Westlake belted his first collegiate homer to lead Vanderbilt to a 12-7 win over UIC in the four-game series finale Sunday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores finished their nine game home stand with an 8-1 mark and improved to 9-4 overall on the year, while the Flames dropped to 1-9.
"I liked the way we rebounded after dropping the first game on Thursday," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "Our pitchers threw well for the most part and I thought we played pretty solid defense in this series. We still have our share of hiccups but that's kids learning to play at a high level. It was good to walk away with three wins from this series because UIC is a difficult team to play."
UIC jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first when Jake Carr belted a homer to left-center, his second of the weekend, off of starter Sean Bierman.
The Commodores took advantage of two UIC errors in the bottom of the first to score three runs to put VU on top 3-2. Brian Harris walked and Curt Casali reached on a fielding error before Jason Esposito lined a double down the right field line. Both Harris and Casali came into score as the relay throw from the shortstop sailed over the catcher's head and bounced away from home. Esposito took advantage of the miscue to move to third and advance home for the third run.
VU added another run in the second when Jonathan White singled, stole second and third, and scored on Brian Harris' RBI single to center.
The Dores plated two more runs in the third on a bases loaded walk to Jonathan White and a sacrifice fly by Alex Hilliard to make it 6-2. They then added three unearned runs in the fourth to take a controlling 9-2 lead. Casali scored on a passed ball and Westlake scored on a throwing error by the pitcher on a grounder by Riley Reynolds. Joe Loftus then singled to left to score Reynolds.
Aaron Westlake's first collegiate homer, a two-run shot, in the fifth extended the lead to 11-2.
UIC chased Bierman out of the game in the sixth, scoring four runs on RBI singles by Jason Ganek and Chris Rutta and a two-out two-run single by Nathan Orf.
Bierman (1-1) allowed six runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings with five strikeouts and two walks to pick up his first collegiate win.
Steve McGuiggan's two-out RBI single in the seventh cut the lead to 11-7. Steven Liddle threw McGuiggan out at second for the third out in the inning as he tried to stretch the hit into a double.
Aaron Westlake's RBI double in the seventh pushed the lead back up to 12-7. Westlake finished with two hits and three RBI on the day, while Esposito led the Commodores with three hits. Brian Harris and Jonathan White each had two hits in VU's 13 hit attack.
Taylor Hill pitched the final 3.1 innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits to pick up his first save of the year.
Peter Ifft (0-1) took the loss for UIC, allowing six runs, three earned, on five hits in 2.1 inning of work with three walks and no strikeouts. Brett Schaefer led the Flames offensively with three hits on the day.
"I think we are in a good state right now," said Jason Esposito after finishing out non-conference weekend play. "We still need to minimize our mistakes and make sure they aren't hurting us. We are getting a lot of support from our pitchers right now and I think our team's confidence level is high."
The Commodores will travel a couple of miles from campus to face in-town foe Lipscomb at Ken Dugan Field at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. VU will then open up Southeastern Conference play next weekend as Ole Miss comes to town for a three-game set. The Commodores and Rebels will open up at 6 p.m. on Friday and will then play at 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.