There is but one thing we know for sure about today’s game: we will see neither Matthew Ruppenthal nor his Magic Curvenball on the mound. Why? Well, let’s just say he threw more innings than Kyle Wright, and Wright was on the mound for a solid 6. Ruppenthal masterfully held serve for 7 consecutive innings, allowing Reed Hayes to drive in the game tying run in the 9th, and Julian “Chinfante” Infante to break out his boom stick for a two run jack in the 13th to wrap up the series win. All were high pressure innings (2 IP down 1, 4 IP tied, and 1 IP up 2), and with the rest of the bullpen’s performance described through gold colored glasses as shaky at best, all innings were entirely necessary.
Saturday April 8th @ 11am CT on ESPN2
On the Bump:
Vanderbilt Fr. RHP Drake “Safari Planet” Fellows (3-0, 2.00 ERA)
v. USC So. RHP Adam “Bobby” Hill (1-3, 2.36 ERA)
It should not surprise you that a Commodores v. Game Penises series features great pitching match-ups on every damned game - it has been both teams’ calling cards, respectively, since the turn of the millennium. However, what is rare is that both teams seem to have the same type of pitcher (big fastball-forward RHPs).
Traditionally, during the Ray “Danny” Tanner era (1997-2012), South Cackalacky’s pitching staff has been stocked with the type of crafty, soft-tossing lefty who stays 4 years and completely befuddles Vanderbilt’s lineup with precision, low 80s mph fastballs, and pitching backwards. As this formula led the Penises to 6 CWS appearances and two titles during Tanner’s tenure, it was not a formula many expected Chad “Hal” Holbrook to deviate from on the recruiting trail when he took over/travelled the country giving talks in a Mark Twain costume. Simply put, like the rumors of his demise, we were wrong.
All three South Cackalacky starters are hard-throwing, big bodied RHPs - the kind of pitcher you expect to see in black and gold gangster pajamas, not garnet and black non-gangster day-wear. Day one starter Will “Dewey” Crowe is 6’2” 245lbs, day two starter - and potential first round pick - Clarke “Schmitt’s Gay” Schmidt is the smallest of the three at 6’1” 205 lbs (but gets it up there with the most juice), and day three starter Adam “Bobby” Hill has ditched prop comedy and Connie Souphanousinphone, but still has quite that signature “That’s my purse! I don’t know you!!!” kick on the mound. At 6’5” 210lbs, that’s one kick to the hokey pokies you don’t want to feel.
Looking closer at the stat lines, it appears Hill and Fellows are carbon-copies of one another. Both have averaged about 6 IP per start (Fellows at exactly 6 IP; Hill at 5.7 IP), an ERA in the low 2s, and have 37 Ks on the season. Hill has been a bit wilder (3.15 BB/9 with 2 HBP to the Safari Planet’s 2.25 BB/9 with 3 HBP), but not noticeably so.
The main difference, it appears, has been w/r/t luck, as Fellows has three wins whereas Hill has three losses.
Though this is already Vanderbilt’s 2nd SEC series victory, a sweep would do wonders for our conference standings. As such, Fellows should have the zookeepers who visit Founders Park today bring their industrial strength brooms. Further, we will need a solid 6+ IP from the Safari Planet, and it would be quite nice to jump out to an early lead, as our bullpen will be down its big piece. Fellows will want to pitch around Alex “Sword of” Destino and freshman phenom Carlos “The Conquistador” Cortes, as well, as both have been on a heater this series.
See you in the comments.