Vanderbilt baseball started the season off on a beautiful Friday afternoon with the temperature in the high 60s, possibly touching the low 70s. They faced off against the University of San Diego Toreros, who clearly brought the west coast weather with them as Nashville has faced nothing short of freezing temperatures for the past few weeks.
The game started off as one might expect from the Commodores-- a few new faces, a few returning veterans and not much out of the lineup in the first inning from either team.
The Commodores got their first hit of the season on a Jason Delay double in the second, and later came around to score on a Conor Kaiser bases-loaded walk. The very next inning, Bryan Reynolds singled to score Jeren Kendall, and Delay doubled again to give the Commodores a 3-0 lead.
The Toreros started the fourth off with a one-out double to score two, and the Commodores were faced with a shortened lead at 3-2. But Jordan Sheffield continued out of the jam and the Commodores came back on a Jeren Kendall 2-run home run in the bottom half of the inning.
Kendall singled again in the sixth to score Kaiser from third, and brought the Vanderbilt lead to 6-2.
Sheffield went five full innings before giving way to freshman Patrick Raby. Sheffield allowed only two runs on four hits. Raby got into a little bit of a jam in the top of the seventh with the bases loaded from a couple two-out walks, but he earned the strikeout to get out of it.
Raby allowed two runners on in the top of the eighth before giving way to sophomore Matt Ruppenthal, who allowed a base hit to shallow right field that scored two runners. The Commodores' lead cut to 6-4 in the eighth inning.
A two-run bomb in the bottom of the eighth by Jeren Kendall gave Vanderbilt an 8-4 lead with only one out in the bottom of the eighth.
The Commodores won the season opener 8-4 against San Diego, and showed a lot of promise for the rest of the weekend.
Kendall went 4-for-4 with two home runs, five RBIs and three runs scored. All were career highs for the sophomore.
So far the stand-out starters have clearly made their presence known. Jeren Kendall has adopted the new "C'mon Jeren, C'mon Jeren, C'mon Jeren" chant commonly associated with former Vandy Rhett Wiseman. It seems to be paying off, too, since he managed to hit his way in the the hearts of Vanderbilt's Opening Day attendees. Bryan Reynolds did well in the season opener as well, and a couple doubles from Delay to make him notable, too. Sheffield's pitching is always something to be excited about, especially since he seems to have improved even more from last year.
The Commodores return to Hawkins Field tomorrow afternoon to face the Toreros again on Saturday, February 20th at 2 pm.