We saw a blowout, a close call and an incredible comeback this weekend, and there was absolutely nothing boring about any of it.
At this point in the season, I'm not expecting there to be a "normal" game from these boys.
GAME ONE: Vanderbilt 16, Illinois St. 1
February 27, 2015
The Commodores cruised past Illinois St. in game one of the three game series. After scoring 16 runs and Fulmer punching out 11 batters, the ‘Dores limit the Redbirds to one run on three hits and three errors.
The third inning saw five runs by the Commodores as the sixth inning saw 10, and one more was scored in the seventh before allowing the Redbirds to have a sliver of hope in the top of the ninth avoiding a shutout by one run. Fulmer had another solid start while striking out 11 through six innings before giving way to Joey Abraham, Collin Snyder and Aubrey McCarty who each pitched one inning. Fans in attendance got a special treat watching McCarty, an ambidextrous hurler (also known as a switch-pitcher), threw both right-handed and left-handed. He was charged with the only Redbird run in the game.
GAME TWO: Vanderbilt 3, Illinois St. 2
February 28, 2015
Vanderbilt squeaks by Illinois St. in game two, scoring two runs in the first inning and one in the fifth. The Redbirds made things interesting in the seventh inning when two runs scored on a single, but Pfiefer limited the damage and the Commodores held on to win the game.
Runs were scored by Reynold, Wiseman and Delay as Sheffield was the only pitcher with 2 earned runs. All in all, it was a solid game by the Commodores, with proper pitching changes at the right times and, with the exception of a couple blemishes, damage control took over and the ‘Dores came out on top.
GAME THREE: Vanderbilt 16, Illinois St. 10
March 1, 2015
An unlikely, but amazing finish for the Commodores didn’t start out too hopeful.
A four-run first by Illinois St. seemed to set the pace for the early game as it took an hour to finish less than two innings of work. The Commodores couldn’t find the strike zone as they blew through three pitchers in two innings. After a six-run second, the ‘Dores settled the batters for the next three frames before the Vandy bats started producing some runs. They loaded the bases and with two outs, Zander Wiel blasted a grand slam home run over the left field wall, and that started something big for the boys.
They scored again in the sixth inning after getting some base hits to string together. Swanson scored Reynolds on a double down the left field line and loaded the bases once again for Toffey before the Redbirds needed another pitching change. An error-plagued bottom of the sixth for the Redbirds saw the ballgame tied before heading to the seventh.
The seventh inning saw six more runs as the Commodores took the unlikely 16-10 lead. Commodores came together to take the season’s first series sweep over the visiting Illinois St. Redbirds.
It wasn’t pretty but the Commodores came out on top in a much needed series sweep. The type of game they played this weekend is what was expected of them since the end of last season, and it's a promise for the future. After a thrilling victory on Sunday, and another comeback win earlier in the week, I think it would be safe to say that this team is capable of any type of a comeback.
Pitcher of the Week: Carson Fulmer
He’s really deserved it the last two weeks and proved it even more this week. Fulmer struck out 11 batters in game one and gave another quality start to earn him this title. Ryan Johnson settled the batters in the 10-run deficit on Sunday before his team rallied, so it was tough to call-- but after seeing Johnson’s performance, I’m sure he will have plenty of opportunities this season to earn these honors.
Player of the Week: Zander Wiel
Wiel delivered the grand slam in the fifth on Sunday that got the runs rolling for the Commodores. After Wiel’s grand salami, the Commodores delivered back-to-back six-run innings in the sixth and seventh to take the lead and victory. The Sunday comeback may not have happened if it weren’t for Zander Wiel, and although the entire team contributed to the win, I credit Wiel with the rally. And, let's not forget about his grand slam in the comeback against WKU in the midweek game.
The next home game is on Tuesday, March 3, against Evansville which starts at 4 pm CT. This weekend, the Commodores will be in the air to Los Angeles to take on UCLA, USC and TCU at Dodger Stadium. Friday’s game against UCLA will be at 8 pm CT. Saturday’s game against USC will be at 4 pm CT; and the game against TCU on Sunday will have a 1:45 pm CT start time. Enjoy the series preview this week and the recap next Monday.