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Commodores Keep Kentucky out of Victory Lane

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Because for some reason when I think "Wildcats" I think of "bad drivers." No, but seriously, considering Kentucky's annoyance in the SEC basketball tournament, it was fun to actually see them lose... more than once.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Commodores traveled to Lexington to face the Kentucky Wildcat baseball team, and returned home to Vanderbilt with another series victory under their belt. The weekend resulted in another dominating performance for Vanderbilt as they head into the final weekends of the season. Although Kentucky took game two, two explosive offensive performances helped the 'Dores win their second straight weekend of SEC play.

GAME ONE: Vanderbilt 13, Kentucky 3

May 1, 2015

The good thing about Carson Fulmer is that when his game is not up to par, it's still dominating. His numbers last night were lacking in comparison to those of his recent weeks.  The righty allowed three earned runs on 8 hits and only 6 strikeouts in just over six innings; but for any other pitcher, that's a really good start. It still got the job done for the Commodores on Friday.

Vandy jumped on an early lead scoring once in each of the first two innings, and tied the game in the fourth, after the Wildcats scored all three of their runs in the second and third. With the game knotted at 3 going into the seventh, Ro Coleman entered the box and blasted a bases-clearing double to give the Commodores the only extra runs they really needed.

It didn't stop there. Rhett Wiseman followed up with a two-out home run to extend the lead to 8-3. In the eighth inning, the Commodores sent 10 batters to the plate, and another five runs scored-- with a Karl Ellison single drawing the only hit to score a run. (Thanks to bases-loaded walks, hit by pitch, etc.) The Wildcats got Wild in the eighth inning, contributing to a dominant 13-3 Vandy victory Friday night.

Although Rhett Wiseman went 2-for-5 with four RBI, Will Toffey went a perfect 4-for-4 (which is just plain fun to say) with only one RBI and four runs scored.

GAME TWO: Kentucky 11, Vanderbilt 5

May 2, 2015

The Wildcats tied up the series in a similar fashion to Vanderbilt's victory the night before: a couple of big innings put the 'Cats on top and buried the Commodores.

Philip Pfeifer, who dominated in his first start of 2015 last week, struggled in this game. He took the loss after pitching 4.2 innings and allowing 10 runs, only six earned, on nine hits and only four strikeouts. Vanderbilt errors didn't help.

The Commodores jumped early, again, scoring in the first inning, but the Wildcats tied it up in the second. In the third, Vanderbilt scored once more, but that would be the end of their scoring until the ninth. The Wildcats, instead, plated four runs in the third inning, simply from decent hitting and placement. In the fifth, the Commodores let up six more runs for the Wildcats, with the Commodores contributing a couple of errors, notching a lead the Commodores couldn't overcome. The 'Dores tried to rally in the ninth but could only come up with three runs.

Dansby Swanson drove in two runs on the night.

GAME THREE: Vanderbilt 7, Kentucky 3

May 3, 2015

As depressing as I just made Saturday's loss sound, the Commodores toppled over Kentucky in Walker Buehler's steady start after a rocky first inning.

The Commodores, again, scored in the first inning but the Wildcats raised the ante by bringing three baserunners home. The was all the runs Kentucky would score that night. Buehler pitched the next five innings in shutout-fashion, allowing only seven hits in his start. His relief, Jordan Sheffield, Kyle Wright and Ben Bowden, pitched the last three innings almost flawlessly. The trio allowed only one walk and no hits.

The offense capitalized on their pitchers settling to tie the game 3-3 in the third, setting the stage for some late-inning drama. Will Toffey opened the eighth with a single and a stolen base, and was chased home in by a Jeren Kendall home run. Although it was all they needed, the 'Dores put up another pair of runs in the ninth - a two-run single by Toffey - to stifle a hope for a comeback by Kentucky.

Commodores took the series 2-1 with Sunday's victory.

Overall...

It's impossible to talk about Saturday. It's only been two weeks since Pfeifer was in the starting position, one a dominating presence and the other.. well... Saturday... It's impossible to decipher where he stands. Personally, I would like to see him out there on Game 2 against Florida, but if he falters there, put him back in the 'pen behind Fulmer.

Other than that, the Commodores took Sunday's victory in true baseball-fashion. Because, let's face it-- this team likes to add a little flare to their games (not that that's a bad thing). But Sunday's game was a win the right kind of way: tie the game up, take the lead, add an insurance run or two. It proves the Commodores don't need blow-out innings or things like that to win a ballgame.

Pitcher of the Week: Ben Bowden

Bowden doesn't get much attention in relief, but I wanted to give this honor to someone other than Carson Fulmer, and with Fulmer slacking on the strikeouts, I figured Bowden's relief performances couldn't go unmentioned for long. The sophomore pitched a perfect 1.1 inning to pick up the save on Sunday, his second of the season. Ok, I guess it doesn't look like much, but Bowden has done pretty well in relief over the season and has been overshadowed (like all other pitchers) by Fulmer, so congratulations, Ben! You get pitcher of the week.

Player of the Week: Dansby Swanson

Another tough one to decide, since Wiseman's bat was the best and Toffey contributed to some lead changes. But Swanson had a knack for steals this weekend, and they paid off. Not to mention his two RBI game on Saturday. Congratulations, Dansby. You can hit... You can run... You can crow-- oh wait, this isn't Peter Pan. But yeah, the Mansby can do it all.

Special thanks to Andrew for the consultation on the weekly honors. The two of us are preparing a special baseball power rankings segment later this week, so tune in for that. *COLLUSION!!

Coming up...

The Commodores are hosting the Florida Gators this weekend in a Mothers' Day series starting on Thursday. Thursday and Friday night's games will begin at 6:30 pm while Saturday's rubber match will begin at noon. Thursday's game will be aired on ESPNU, while Friday's game will be on SEC Network+ and Saturday's on regular SEC Network.