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Vandy routs Arkansas, makes SEC title game

HOOVER, Ala. | Caleb Cotham allowed one run in a seven-inning complete game and Brian Harris had three RBIs to lead Vanderbilt to an 11-1 victory over Arkansas on Saturday and into the Southeastern Conference tournament championship.

The eighth-seeded Commodores (34-24) will seek their second league tournament title in three years Sunday after winning their first three games with dominant pitching.

They added potent offense to the formula on Saturday when the game started after a 22-minute rain delay. Vanderbilt had 15 hits with every player in the lineup getting at least one and won it on the 10-run mercy rule after seven innings. Jonathan White's RBI groundout ended it.

Arkansas (34-22) would have had to beat Vandy twice Saturday to make the championship game.

Cotham (6-5) allowed five hits and one run in seven innings while striking out seven. He hadn't gone more than three innings in his past five outings. Two of his better performances have come against Arkansas, including a 12-strikeout game on April 11.

"It was just a very clutch pitching performance," Vandy coach Tim Corbin said. He said when Cotham was approached about starting the key tournament game the previous day, "He gave us all the right answers."

The game was scoreless until Vandy's Curt Casali belted a leadoff homer in the fourth to start an offensive explosion.

When Harris added a two-run double before the inning was over, "we knew we were in a little bit of trouble," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said.

"You can tell they're full of energy," he said. "They've got some good pitchers and tough hitters. They're going to be tough to stop."

The Commodores then opened the fifth with four straight singles. Aaron Westlake went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and Casali had two hits and scored twice for Vanderbilt.

The Razorbacks got their only run when Travis Sample had an RBI double in the sixth.

Starter TJ Forrest (2-6) and three relievers couldn't find a way to contain Vandy's hitters. The Commodores had multiple runs in each of the final four innings.

Vanderbilt had lost the past four games coming into the tournament, but has only allowed six total runs in the three games since.

"After last weekend, we just went back and talked about how successful we've been in this tournament in the past," Corbin said. "The guys have a comfort zone about coming here and playing well. I always tell them this is our tournament."

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