So far this season for Vanderbilt, we’ve seen below-freezing temperatures, a disappointing and unexpected loss, the very first walk-off win this season, a couple of postponed games and a replaced weekend series in Florida.
So that makes this past weekend’s events mildly unsurprising.
GAME ONE: Vanderbilt 3, Indiana St. 2
February 20, 2015
Rhett Wiseman delivered the walk-off win in the first game of the series against Indiana St. at the neutral site in Port Charlotte, Florida. (Remember when I said last week to watch out for Rhett Wiseman?) The game was tied going into the 9th, and things looked daunting as Indiana St. loaded the bases in the top half of the frame on three straight walks. Ben Bowden relieved Jordan Sheffield and eliminated the next three batters for the Commodores to step up to the plate in the bottom, and Rhett Wiseman singled in Tyler Campbell on a bases-loaded bounce up the middle.
Bowden earned his first win of the season, backing up another stellar performance by Carson Fulmer and Phil Pfeifer, and Wiseman was the man of the show having batted in all three runs for the Commodores.
GAME TWO: Indiana St. 8, Vanderbilt 1
February 21, 2015
I’m not going to lie. This game was going on the same time my Philadelphia Flyers were mopping up the Preds, and at one point when I checked the Vanderbilt game, it was tied at 1 going into the 6th. By the time the Flyers won in a shootout (heavy breathing subsided), I checked the Vanderbilt score and they had lost 8-1.
My original thought was, "What in God’s good name happened?" until I remembered, this is baseball season and look what’s already happened so far. That being said, the Commodores fell for the second loss of their season on Saturday in Port Charlotte. I’m going to blame Curt Casali and Grayson Garvin for sneaking into the Commodores dugout in the 5th inning.
What really happened, however, was Hayden Stone relieving John Kilichowski in the 5th, and walking the next two batters to force the tying run. Stone picked up the loss with three earned runs but the damage wasn’t done when Tyler Ferguson came in to relieve Stone after only two outs of work, and his line consisted of four runs on two hits and three walks. So, there you have it; Stone and Ferguson couldn’t hold off Indiana St.’s 7-8-9 hitters in the lineup, blowing the game open with inherited runs in the 6th for an 8-1 loss.
GAME THREE: Vanderbilt 6, Indiana St. 0
February 22, 2015
Okay. This one was a little weird, even with everything going on in Vanderbilt baseball this season.
Apparently, this was the scene in Port Charlotte in game three this weekend:
That’s right. A raccoon was loose in the seats during the 6th inning of a (thankfully) 5-0 Commodores lead. The game played on, though, and Kyle Wright delivered an all-star performance before giving up the mound to Phil Pfiefer for his second appearance of the weekend. Ben Bowden came in to pitch the 9th and secure a Vanderbilt 6-0 shutout. Runs were scored by Reynolds, Toffey (3), Ellison and Green (PH), being batted in by Reynolds, Wiel, Ellison, Coleman and Kendall (2).
This was a good (warm) weekend for the Commodores but it definitely could have gone without the loss. Saturday's outcome was quite unpredicted by all (except maybe some Indiana St. hopefuls), but it’s only the second week. The Commodores have a couple of midweek games to shake off the loss and coming off a shutout victory on Sunday, that shouldn't be too difficult for the team. It would be ridiculous of me to say this non-conference loss against a last-minute team at a neutral site would be detrimental to the rest of the season.
Pitcher of the Week: Ben Bowden
This was tough to choose between Kyle Wright, Carson Fulmer and Ben Bowden, but I figure I have plenty of weekends to name Fulmer, and Bowden earned his first win on Friday as well as holding down the fort for the shutout on Sunday. Congratulations, Bowden. You topped out this weekend. But Carson's on you like white on rice for next weekend.
Player of the Week: Rhett Wiseman
Hey, remember last week when I said watch out for Rhett Wiseman? I think I’m going to do a "watch out" segment every week and see if I’m right in predicting their upcoming worth. Batting second in the lineup behind Swanson, Rhett Wiseman went 2-for-4 in game one while accounting for all of the runs in Friday night’s win. My "watch out" guy this week will be Toffey, who went 2-for-3 with three runs on Sunday’s victory (although it was a pretty successful day for the entire bottom half of the lineup).
The Commodores come home again on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 24 and 25, to face UT-Martin and Western Kentucky respectively. Provided the weather stays favorable, Vanderbilt is set to host Illinois State at Hawkins Field this weekend. Game times for Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday are 4 pm, while Saturday and Sunday are scheduled for 1 pm. All games but Saturday will broadcast on SECN+.