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NASHVILLE (VUAD)– Vanderbilt jumped ahead early and blew the game away thanks to a five-run sixth, capturing the season-opening series with a 9-1 victory against No. 25 Duke on Sunday afternoon at Hawkins Field.

The No. 14 Commodores (2-1) collected 13 hits from eight different players and sent all nine batters to the plate in the sixth. Vanderbilt cashed in on a Duke (1-2) errant throw and a two-run single from Ethan Paul in the frame, upping the lead to 7-1.

After a Pat DeMarco single, Stephen Scott fought off a 1-2 pitch, lining an RBI-single into right. Philip Clarke provided the final damage, grounding his first pitch to second base, scoring DeMarco to push the lead to 9-1.

Vandy reliever Mason Hickman (1-0) was lights out in relief, tossing the final five scoreless frames while permitting just three hits and striking out seven. Starter Chandler Day tossed four innings, giving up three hits and a run while fanning six.

Vanderbilt wasted little time in scoring as Austin Martin belted the third pitch of the game – a fastball from Duke starter Mitch Stallings (0-1) – over the Monster in left field for a leadoff home run.

The Dores continued to strike in the first, loading the bases with no outs thanks to a laced double from Connor Kaiser, seven-pitch walk by Paul and an infield single from DeMarco. After a fielder’s choice re-loaded the bags with one down, patience paid off for Julian Infante, who worked a seven-pitch walk, scoring Paul and extending the Vandy lead to 2-0.

Duke trimmed the lead in half in the third, using a two-out double from Jack Labosky to plate Jimmy Herron, who reached to lead off the frame on a hit by pitch. Vandy was able to limit the damage, however, as Jayson Gonzalez cut down Griffin Conine at home before Paul stabbed a line drive.

After stranding runners in each inning between the second and fourth, Vandy began pulling away in the fifth. The Dores loaded the bases with two down and capitalized as Philip Clarke dumped a 2-2 pitch into shallow left, plating DeMarco and Kaiser.

The Dores pitching staff limited Duke to a .194 batting average during the three games while posting a 2.33 ERA. The Vandy offense hit at a .339 clip including an 8-for-13 performance from freshman Pat DeMarco, who also added five runs. Fellow freshman Philip Clarke contributed a team-leading six RBIs and four runs while Paul collected five RBIs and scored three times.

The Commodores return to action on Tuesday, continuing their 10-game season-opening homestand against Presbyterian. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. The squads close the brief two-game midweek set on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

BOXSCORE: 20180218-Vanderbilt 9-Duke 1

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