The boys are back in town, and it appears they are in National Championship form as the Commodores took the series this weekend against #14 Missouri in sweeping fashion.
That's right, Vanderbilt swept Mizzou this weekend with two blowouts after impeccable pitching performances, then used late-inning fireworks from Dansby (the Mansby) Swanson to finish it off.
GAME ONE: Vanderbilt 9, Missouri 2
Friday, April 24, 2015
Carson Fulmer garnered his eighth win of the season in another spectacular performance. He struck out 11 batters over seven innings, allowing only three hits and no earned runs, before being relieved by Collin Snider who gave up the only two runs of the ballgame in the eighth. Tyler Ferguson closed out the ninth.
The offense stepped up in game one, however, and there was no need to preserve a lead as the game was blown open in the third. Vanderbilt scored the first two runs in the first two innings, the first being a solo home run by Rhett Wiseman, before a six-run third inning brought the Vandy lead to 8-0. Swanson singled in a run to start the third, but Zander Wiel’s two-run homer set the scoring off. Jeren Kendall also hit a two-run blast in the third to round out the inning.
Bryan Reynolds had three hits in the game, but Wiel shined with two RBI and two runs scored after a rough run last weekend.
GAME TWO: Vanderbilt 12, Missouri 2
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Philip Pfeifer took the mound to start game two--wait, what?? You heard me. Philip Pfeifer took the mound to start game two. And boy, what a start it was.
Similar to Fulmer, Pfeifer pitched seven innings, except Pfeifer allowed two earned runs on seven hits. Not similar to Fulmer, Pfeifer struck out a career-high 13 batters in his first start of the season, and the Vanderbilt offense took off for him just like they did on Friday.
Things were quiet in both dugouts until the third when Vanderbilt opened the scoring by plating three runs off another Rhett Wiseman home run. Although that ended up being all the Commodores needed, that didn’t stop them from scoring another run in the fifth and three more in the sixth. Zander Wiel hit his third grand slam of the season in the eighth to lead the Commodores to a 12-2 victory and series victory over Missouri.
GAME THREE: Vanderbilt 5, Missouri 2
Sunday, April 26, 2015
The Commodores came to play on Sunday and brought the brooms with them as they rallied behind Sunday starting pitcher Walker Buehler. Buehler, like Fulmer and Pfeifer before him, went seven strong innings. The junior allowed seven hits and two earned runs, while striking out nine. Bowden, however, earned the win in relief behind two scoreless innings allowing only one hit.
The scoring was silent until the fifth inning when Wiel homered in his third consecutive game. The Tigers returned the favor in the sixth with a solo shot to knot things at 1-1. Another run in the seventh gave Mizzou their first lead of the entire weekend, but Wiel came around to score on a sacrifice fly to tie the ballgame. The Commodores scored three more runs in the eighth, from a two-RBI single by Swanson and the insurance run by Will Toffey.
Bowden held off in the ninth inning to preserve the win and sweep for the Commodores.
This was exactly what the Commodores needed. I don't even need to explain why. But the changes that were made injected confidence into this team's lineup and worked out splendidly. Andrew will have a full update on the rotation changes tomorrow, but what a difference it makes!!
This was a dominant showing that should silence the team's doubters - at least for one week. The Commodores dropped to #13 going into the series, taking on the #14 Mizzou. To blow them out and command the series sweep the way they did is perfect going into the final stretch of the season.
Pitcher of the Week: Phil Pfeifer
I was wrong, everyone. Phil Pfeifer most certainly has a spot somewhere other than behind Fulmer, and that is the next starting spot. Pfeifer knocked out a career-high 13 batters in his first start. Not to outshine Fulmer or anything, of course. (Fulmer had 11 strikeouts in just as many innings, but less hits and earned runs.)
Player of the Week: Zander Wiel
Wiel went 6-for-12 this weekend and contributed seven RBI, as well as six runs scored. In a weekend that featured a commanding Commodore offense, Wiel hit three home runs in three consecutive games. That included his third grand slam of the season. Reynolds started the weekend decently but fell more silent on Sunday, and Swanson didn't have much of a contribution in the series until Sunday. The entire offense could be highlighted at some point this weekend, but Wiel was the most consistent at the plate, and provided the most power all weekend.
Wiel and Wiseman are now tied for the team lead in home runs at nine.
Vanderbilt plays a midweek game at Belmont on Tuesday, April 28th at 5 pm before heading to Lexington for the series against Kentucky. That series begins on Friday, May 1st, with a weird start time at 5:30 pm. The Saturday game will begin at 5:30 pm and Sunday’s rubber match will begin at noon. All three games against Kentucky will be on SEC Network+.