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Three Musketeer Losses give Commodores a Sweep

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The Commodores offense showed their presence in this weekend's series against Xavier, blowing out games one and two and cruising to a victory in the series finale.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The Commodores only allowed five runs scored by Xavier this past weekend in a blowout-filled series sweep. Sheffield seemed back in fashion while the rest of the pitching staff appeared to be just as solid as the batting lineup. The Musketeers managed 21 hits over the weekend but not very much run support as the Commodores outscored Xavier 26-5.

GAME ONE: Vanderbilt 7, Xavier 0

Friday, March 11

Sheffield allowed only one hit over 7.2 innings of work on Friday night in what turned out to be a three-hit combined shutout. Not only did he pitch longer than usual this past weekend, but he struck out a whopping 12 batters and walked only three. Behind him, Will Toffey led the offensive output with three hits including an RBI and a run scored. Jason Delay and Penn Murfee also had a multi-hit game in Friday's contest, also accumulating an RBI and a run scored each. Sheffield advanced to a 3-1 record while the Commodores improved to 13-1.

GAME TWO: Vanderbilt 14, Xavier 3

Saturday, March 12

The game started out normal enough the first few frames with Ben Bowden taking the mound and going five full innings while only allowing two runs on six hits. Once the Commodores came to the plate in the bottom of the third, things started to take off. After scoring two runs in the third, the Commodores didn't have another scoreless inning for the remainder in the game, scoring one in the fourth, four in the fifth, one in the sixth, two in the seventh and four final runs in the eighth to take a 14-3 lead going into the top of the ninth. Xavier scored its three runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings of the game, while the Commodores just kept the runs coming. While nearly everybody managed a hit in the lineup, and several substitutions came for the Commodores later in the game, Kyle Smith led the offensive output hitting three-for-four with three RBI and two runs scored. Penn Murfee, Walter Grisanti and Ethan Paul also had multi-hits in Saturday's blowout.

GAME THREE: Vanderbilt 5, Xavier 2

Sunday, March 13

In the only "close" game of the series, Kyle Wright pitched 5.1 innings allowing only one run on one hit. That run came in the fifth inning while the Musketeers' second run came off of Collin Snider in the seventh inning. Aside from another good start from the Commodores' starting rotation, Kyle Wright struck out seven batters in his outing. Offensively, Penn Murfee and Liam Sabino had three and two hits respectively, while Jeren Kendall hit a home run to lead off the hitting for the Commodores. Kendall also had a sacrifice fly to give him a two-RBI game.

Overall

Sheffield's dominant pitching returned (as if anyone was concerned last week wasn't just a minor glitch) and the bats were reawakened at the return to the Hawk. The Commodores looked like their normal selves again after their trip to Palo Alto, where they didn't really disappoint anyone anyway. The biggest difference for this weekend, however, were the freshman talents making big hits for Vanderbilt. Ethan Paul and Walter Grisanti both made their names stand out with some good hitting and important plays in the first two games of the series. If this weekend is a glance at our future, whether it be near or far, it didn't disappoint.

Pitcher of the Week: Jordan Sheffield

Come on. It's hard not to give him pitcher of the week after recovering so well from his last appearance and striking out 12 batters in 7.2 innings. If I couldn't give it to Sheffield, I would give it to Kyle Wright, who struck out seven batters in 5.1 innings. And if I couldn't give it to him, Collin Snider pitched well in relief in the first and final games of the series. If having too many Pitcher of the Week candidates is Vanderbilt's biggest problem, I'll be okay.

Player of the Week: Tie (see below)

Another close race for Player of the Week this week, with a couple freshman making their names known in several games of the series. Unfortunately for the freshman, Penn Murfee had multiple hits in each game of the series going 7-for-14 including a triple in Sunday's contest. But that couldn't completely overshadow freshmen Ethan Paul, who had two RBI in both Friday's and Saturday's game with multiple hits on Saturday, or Walter Grisanti, who also had a multiple hit game on Saturday. Personally, I'm most excited for Ethan Paul, appearing in all three games and making a difference in them. This shows a preview of what to expect for the future years to come, as far as the age and talent pool for Vanderbilt.

Coming up...

Vanderbilt has a midweek game on Tuesday facing NIU before starting conference play against Mississippi State here at Hawkins Field this weekend. Tuesday's game will have a 6:30 pm start time, while this weekend's series will also be featuring new start times for the remainder of the season:

Friday, March 18, 7:00 pm

Saturday, March 19, 7:30 pm

Sunday, March 20, 1:00 pm

Friday's and Saturday's games will be aired on SEC Network while Sunday's game could potentially be viewed on SEC Network+.