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Commodores Sweep the Flames in Second Series

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Bryan Reynolds led the team to a series sweep when he tied the game in the bottom of the 14th inning on Saturday, setting up the next two batters to load the bases and walk in a run in the only game that wasn't a blowout.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt dominated in the second weekend of the season, with the exception of the Saturday game where they struggled to overcome a tying score going into the ninth. The outcome went Vandy's way, however, when couple base-hits started things off and a couple walks finished them. With another sweep under their belt, including several blowout games, the Commodores are quickly showing their worth as a #3 team.

GAME ONE: Vanderbilt 9, UIC 0

February 26, 2016

Jordan Sheffield shined once again in an 11-strikeout start for the Friday night phenom, where he and relief pitchers Evan Steele and Maddux Conger worked together to shut-out the Flames. Bryan Reynolds and Conor Kaiser both led the team going 3-for-4, with Reynolds running in three in the 9-0 victory. The game was broken open in the 4th inning when Vanderbilt plated five runs to make the score 8-0 and scored one more in the bottom of the 8th.

GAME TWO: Vanderbilt 6, UIC 5 (14)

February 27, 2016

The game was tied 4-4 from the 6th inning on until the game went into extra innings. Neither the Commodores nor the Flames could get anything across the plate until UIC scored one in the top of the 14th inning. In what looked like only three outs for the first loss of the season for Vanderbilt, the Commodores grounded out twice to start a two-out rally. Coleman started things off followed by a Jeren Kendall hit-by-pitch, and then Bryan Reynolds ran Coleman home to tie the game at 5. Will Toffey and Alonzo Jones worked back-to-back walks to load the bases and eventually push one over the plate to win the game.

GAME THREE: Vanderbilt 20, UIC 8

February 28, 2016

Vanderbilt looked like they had this one in the bag early, scoring 14 runs in the first four frames, but a couple pitching changes in the 8th inning allowed the UIC Flames to plate 7 to start a rally and cut the lead to 14-8. The eight runs were all the Flames could muster, however, as almost the entire Commodore lineup had been replaced and still managed to plate six more runs to win the game 20-8.

Overall

With the exception of some struggles on Saturday and a rough 8th inning on Sunday, the Commodores showed they come to play every day. The offense is definitely present, as well as primary pitching performances-- the only downfall would be a few inexperienced freshman who need to settle down just a little bit. Nonetheless, with the talent pool as large as it is with this Vanderbilt team, it's easy to dip into these young guys and see how they play out early in the season, to see how they will fit in later when it's crunch time.

Player of the Week: Bryan Reynolds

Reynolds accumulated 7 hits over the weekend, in which his playing time was shortened during Sunday's blowout to give some freshman a little playing time. He also had 7 RBI and 5 runs scored, and two home runs. Reynolds showed promise in the opening series of the season, but was ultimately out-done by Jeren Kendall. Nonetheless, Reynolds came back to prove himself in the bottom of the 14th inning in Saturday's game, where he tied it up and set up a walk-off winning victory for the Commodores.

Pitcher of the Week: Jordan Sheffield

I almost feel bad giving him Pitcher of the Week two weeks in a row, the first two weeks of the series, but how can you ignore 11 strikeouts over 7 shutout innings in which he only allowed 5 hits. If I can, I would like to extend this honor to relief pitchers Evan Steele and Maddux Conger for their exceptional pitching in securing Sheffield's shutout. They didn't allow a hit over the last two frames to preserve the 9-0, 5-hit shutout for the Commodores.

Coming up...

The Commodores have one midweek game before heading out to sunny Stanford to play the Trees. The midweek game is this Tuesday, March 1, at Hawkins Field starting at 4 pm. Then the 'Dores head out to Palo Alto, California, for the weekend series. Friday's (3/4) start time will be 8 pm, while Saturday (3/5) and Sunday (3/6) games will begin at 3 pm. If you're lucky enough to get the Pac-12 Network, you can view Saturday and Sunday's games on television this upcoming weekend.