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Commodores Topple Tennessee in a 2-1 Series Victory

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Tennessee fans failed to take home plate a few months ago in a "drunken prank" (in which they pre-meditatively thought to bring scissors to cut the turf) and the baseball team couldn't get the job finished.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, the Unnamed come to town, and the weekend’s crazy baseball continued. While everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) would have better enjoyed a sweep of that school across the state (do people say that here?), the Commodores took a series victory and suffered only one loss.

GAME ONE: Vanderbilt 9, Tennessee 0

March 27, 2015

Carson Fulmer bounced back from last weekend’s debacle against Auburn and struck out a new career-high 12 batters against the Volunteers. He went eight innings and only allowed five hits in the shutout, and let Ryan Johnson take over in the ninth to keep the Vols off the board.

Runs came in bunches for the Commodores, in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings. Dansby and Rhett went hitless surprisingly, but Rhett did get an RBI in the sixth inning as a groundout scored Kendall for the eighth total run in the ballgame. The hitting and run scoring were somewhat evenly dispersed between the Vanderbilt middle-of-the-lineup, which included Wiel, Reynolds, Toffey and Campbell. Campbell led the way offensively going 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored.

GAME TWO: Tennessee 9, Vanderbilt 5

March 28, 2015

Let’s just not talk much about this game.

I guess it had to happen. Vanderbilt scored first with a three-run home run by Toffey, his first of the season, in the second inning. Tennessee answered with five runs in the third. The Commodores evened the score at five in the bottom half of the third, and things went smoothly until the eighth.

Buehler started the game and went 5.2 innings before giving way to Philip Pfeifer, who was tagged with the loss. Pfeifer uncharacteristically let up four earned runs on four hits in the eighth, from which the Commodores couldn’t come back. Vanderbilt dropped this one 9-5.

GAME THREE: Vanderbilt 14, Tennessee 3

March 29, 2015

Swanson and Wiel stole the show in the rubber match of the series as Vanderbilt cruised to an easy 14-3 win to take the series against Tennessee.

Vanderbilt scored seven runs in the first inning and that’s all they really needed... but the Commodores like to put on a show, and scored two more in the second. Tennessee answered with two runs in the fourth, but Vanderbilt tacked on another run to make the score 10-2 and essentially call the Knoxville buses back to Hawkins Field. With the Commodores scoring three more in the fifth, Tennessee tried to rally against in the sixth but only managed one run. Commodores added their final run in the bottom of the eighth to finalize the scoring at 14.

The Commodores strung together 14 runs on 17 hits. The rest of the numbers sound absurd to me. The box score shows, 14 runs on 17 hits in 40 at-bats, with 13 RBI, and nine runners left on base.

Swanson went 3-for-4 with four runs scored and one RBI, with only one walk. Ziel went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and four RBI. Reynolds had a significant impact on the day, going 3-for-4 with one run scored and four RBI. The whole day was a hard-hitting powerhouse with three doubles, one triple and two home runs (Wiel and Ellison).

Overall...

I don’t like the trend Vanderbilt is getting into with dropping one game in each series recently, but it’s clearly not making an impact on the team. Carson Fulmer has shown resiliency in the past and I fully understand why Corbsy has confidence in him and leaves him in the ballgame insanely longer than any pitcher should be when he’s struggling. But Fulmer didn't struggle this weekend, and the Commodores can easily forget a bad night and go full throttle the next game, as they do every game.

If anything, these one-game losses are character-builders for this Commodore team and, in my opinion, show how much more dominant this team really is. But, nonetheless, sweeps are always better.

As long as this one-loss thing isn't an all-season trend, I’m okay with clobbering Tennessee two out of three times.

Pitcher of the Week: Carson Fulmer

I really wanted to give this award this week to Ryan Johnson, because he pitched twice in three days and earned the win on Sunday. But Fulmer’s resiliency in the loss last week and coming out this week, striking out a new career-best 12 batters in eight shutout innings is just... phenomenal, to me. Congrats Carson, you’re baaaaaack.

Player of the Week: Will Toffey

Player of the Week this week could have gone to just about anybody in the Commodore lineup, but I wanted to shine some light on the (figuratively) little guy and give props to Will Toffey for hitting his first home run, a three-run shot. Toffey was pretty consistent on the weekend, having hits in all three games and contributing defensively as well. He also has an awesome walk-up song. Kudos!

Coming up...

Vanderbilt plays two home games against Wofford on Tuesday, March 31, and Wednesday, April 1 at 6:30 and 5 pm respectively.

This weekend, the Commodores head over to God’s country (Athens, GA) to take on UGA in conference series starting on Friday, April 3. That game will start at 6 pm CT, while Saturday’s game starts at 1 pm CT and Sunday’s will begin at 11 am CT. Friday’s and Saturday’s games will be televised on SEC Network+ while Sunday’s will be on SEC Network.